Higher Technology Use Linked to Mental Health Issues in At-Risk Adolescents

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Greater use of technology has been linked to later increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, a new Duke University study of 151 youth ages 11-15 suggests.

Findings include that on days during which the at-risk adolescents in the study used technology more, they experienced more conduct problems and higher attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms compared to days when they used technology less. They were also more likely to experience conduct problems such as lying, fighting and other behavioral problems.

However, the study also found that using technology was linked to some positive outcomes. On days when adolescents spent more time using digital technologies they were less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The study participants who spent an average of 2.3 hours a day using digital devices had a lower socio-economic status and were at a heightened risk for mental health problems, so it’s unclear if these findings would apply to all adolescents.

The researchers are now conducting a large study of more than 2,000 North Carolina adolescents to determine how and why high digital device use predicts future problems among some adolescents, as well as whether being constantly connected to devices during adolescence could provide opportunities to improve mental health.

Read the full report.


Categories: Development, Health and Development, Kids + Media, Mental Health, Parenting, Teens