Researchers say device time use not cause for teen mental health issues

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Researchers in California say the amount of time children spend using their smartphones and other devices does not relate to mental health issues.

University of California, Irvine reports a study declares kids are not more likely to develop mental health issues even with excessive time glued to smartphones, something people we spoke to are a bit hesitant to accept immediately.

“I do feel like in this society you … he would be at a disadvantage if he didn’t know how to use it,” said Kristin Thomas, who already plans to limit her sons time with technology. “But definitely limits for sure.”

During the study, kids were asked about how they felt on days when they used technology like smartphones frequently.

Researchers looked for symptoms of depression, anxiety, inattention and hyperactivity and conduct problems, none of which they say had any correlation to how much they used their smartphones.

Other parents are focused on promoting outside activity instead of having them sit in front of screens.

“I just like being with her,” said Michael Smith, a former mental health case worker. “You know, and not being distracted by the TV. Otherwise, we’re going to sit home in front of the couch, and she’s going to watch cartoons.”

Mental health professionals say too much time on smartphones can make it harder for kids to interact with people fact-to-face.

“That affects their sense of self-esteem, their self-worth,” said Dr. Laura Streyffeler, a mental health counselor. “And very often causes a lot of anxiety, social anxiety, and depression.”

Carly Langlands said there is more to life than technology.

“I think this is what life is about,” Langland said. “It’s not about being on our phones 24/7. Phones are a great asset, but they’re not what life is about. It’s about going outside, enjoying the world around us.”

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