Are you worried that your teenager has started whiling away a lot of time on their cell phones?

A new study that relates overuse of cellphones,  especially smartphones, with mental health problems among adolescents is a clarion call for a lot of parents to limit their children’s cell phone usage.

According to this study, problems revolving around attention, behaviour and self-regulation are more common among adolescents with high mobile phone usage. The study was formulated by Researchers from Duke University in the US after analysing 151 young adolescents and their daily technology use. The data were collected three times a day for one month and was assessed for mental health symptoms 18 months later.

Tenets of the study:

1. The participants were between 11 and 15 years of age and were from a lower socioeconomic status. This group, particularly showed an increased risk for mental health problems.

2. Their average duration of cell phone use was a staggering 2.3  hours a day. The study also says that the participants would send an average of 41 texts a day.

3. On days when their cellphone activity exceeded the normal limit, they started indulging in lying, fighting and other behavioural problems.

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4. The majority of them faced difficulty in paying attention and exhibited attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder symptoms.

“This finding makes sense when you think about how kids are commonly using devices to connect with their peers and social networks,” said Candice Odgers, Professor, Duke University.

This augment in cell phone use is a great concern for teachers, parents and everyone associated with child development. At an age when adolescents should be spending most of their time outside building real-life relationships, it is sad to see them sitting glued to their phones interacting with virtual friends.

Another report released in November 2016 talked about the rising depression in adolescent girls. The crux of the problem, according to them, was the intensified use of cell phones.

Sensitising adolescents about the ill-effects of excessive cellphone activity is the only way we can bring this important segment of the population back on track.

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