Smartphones and tablets lead to mental problems in children and adolescents

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What effects does the use of smartphones have on children?
The use of smartphones and tablets has a negative effect on psychological well-being. Researchers have now discovered that even shortly before such devices are used, children and adolescents are more likely to develop anxiety and depression. Small children in particular are particularly affected.

Scientists from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia, in their recent joint study, found that the use of smartphones and tablets more often leads to anxiety and depression, especially among children and adolescents. The physicians published the results of their study in the English-language journal “Preventive Medicine Reports”.

Already short time before the screen leads to negative effects
If children and adolescents spend only one hour a day in front of the screens of smartphones and tablets, this led to a deterioration of their psychological well-being. People with this condition have less curiosity, less self-control and less emotional stability. This increases the risk of anxiety and depression. The study analyzed data from more than 40,000 children between the ages of two and 17 years in the United States. The researchers found that people between the ages of 14 and 17 had a higher risk of such side effects, but also found correlations in younger children and infants whose brains were still developing.

Children were less eager to learn
The study found that children of kindergarten age, who often looked at the screens of smartphones and tablets, lost control about twice as often. When children between the ages of 11 and 13 spend one hour a day in front of the screen, they had nine percent less interest in learning new things. This figure rose to 22.6 percent when the screen time of those affected was seven hours or more.

How much time do young people spend in front of the screen?
Half of all mental health problems develop during adolescence, say study authors Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and Professor Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia. Therefore, there is an acute need to identify influential factors related to mental health problems. Parents and teachers should ensure that children spend less time online, less time before video games and the television. According to the National Institute of Health, young people spend an average of five to seven hours in their free time in front of tablet and smartphone screens. Professor Twenge advised that a limit of two hours should be introduced for children when using smartphones.

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