Teens who spend most of their time glued to the screens of their smartphones are unhappier compared to those who engage in other activities, a new study shows.
Smartphone addiction is a worsening issue in the modern age, as new technologies and features are developed for mobile devices. It has many negative effects, one of which is now proven to be unhappy teenagers.
Teens With Smartphone Addiction Are Unhappier
A new study from San Diego State University researchers concluded that too much smartphone use will make teens unhappy.
The study, which was published in the Emotion journal, showed that happiness, life satisfaction, and self-esteem rose between 1990 and 2011. However, teenage happiness started falling dramatically in 2012, which is right in the middle of the smartphone popularity boom.
Using gathered data that involved more than a million 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the United States, the researchers found that teenagers who spent a lot of time on their smartphones for social media, messaging, and gaming were not as happy as those who went outside, played sports, and engaged in activities with other people.
Jean M. Twenge, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, meanwhile, believes that it's the smartphone addiction that is making teenagers unhappy and not the other way around.
"Although this study can't show causation, several other studies have shown that more social media use leads to unhappiness, but unhappiness does not lead to more social media use," he said.
Twenge recommends that teenagers should spend a maximum of two hours each day on their smartphones and social media. For the freed-up time, they should engage in exercise activities and meet up with their friends in person.
The Fight Against Smartphone Addiction
The new research follows a recent study that links smartphone addiction to chemical imbalance in brains of young people. Meanwhile two Apple investors urged the company to do something about the growing smartphone addiction among youth, referencing another study by Twenge that argued on the central role that smartphones play in increasing teenage depression rates.
Possible methods of curing smartphone addiction, which should hopefully lead to increased happiness among teenagers, include a modified form of therapy like what is used to treat video game addiction. Teenagers may also set personal rules on smartphone usage or try leaving mobile devices in other rooms to be with family and friends. There are also some parental control apps that may help curb smartphone addiction.