Self-Harm Among Teenage Girls On The Rise Possibly Due To Smartphone Use
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of teenage girls who intentionally hurt themselves has tripled since 2009. Some experts say the rise could be attributed to financial pressures or to the rise of smartphone use.
Self-Harm Among Teenage Girls On The Rise
In the new study published on Nov. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined around 43,000 cases of self-inflicted injuries by young boys and girls that took place between 2001 and 2015.
During that period, around 29,000 girls and 14,000 boys between the ages of 10 and 24 were treated in emergency rooms due to self-harm.
Researchers found that the rate of self-harm attempts that occurred before 2008 remained stable. However, they found that the rate rose significantly after that year, especially among teenage girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
The rate increased by 18.8 percent annually from 2009 to 2015. From 2001 to 2005, on the other hand, girls between the ages of 10 and 14 rarely made emergency room visits due to self-harm. Only around 110 girls per 100,000 visited emergency rooms during that time. After 2009, the number of emergency room visits by girls ages 10 and 14 rose to 318 girls per 100,000.
Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University, said parents, teachers, as well as pediatricians should be very concerned about the rise in number, as self-inflicted injuries are one of the major indicators for suicide.
What Are The Reasons Behind The Increase In Number?
Researchers aren't sure why the number of self-inflicted injuries among teenage girls increased in that period. Mental health experts suggest that the rise may be attributed to substance abuse, cyberbullying, and economic pressures.
Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at the San Diego State University, was one of those who rejected the idea that economic pressure was a contributing factor because the years between 2010 and 2015 saw a steady period of economic growth, she said.
Also, some researchers say the surge in self-inflicted injuries and suicide attempts among teenagers could be because those who were born after 1995 are more likely to develop mental health problems compared to millennials. They say this may be attributed to the rise of smartphone technologies.
The Contribution Of Smartphones
In Twenge's research, she found that teenagers who spent five or more hours per day online were 71 percent more likely to develop depression or suicidal symptoms than those who spent only an hour online per day.
She said that some teenagers who wouldn't have had any mental health problems may develop depression because of "too much screen time," less social interaction, not enough sleep, or a combination of all three.