The Role Of Smartphones In The Rising Rates Of Teen Suicide And Depression

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Depression and Suicides and Smartphones Are the Ones to Blame

It is unimaginable how high are teen depression and suicide rates right now and how much have they peaked since 2012! And do you remember what had happened around 2012? Perhaps you are reading this article on that very popular discovery right now — your smartphone!

Yes, everyone has got one and there is nothing strange about it. But, what is strange is how the teen depression and suicide rates seem to have peaked since the discovery of the smartphones.

And there are some very smart researchers that had thought of this link and started investigating it. And their discovery is what brought us here.

Are smartphones the reason behind the high teen depression and suicide rates?

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Let’s face it, it seems like every single teenager on the face of the earth is possessing some kind of a smartphone — 73 percent of them to be more exact. And that is a whole lot.

Around 11.5 percent of the teens in the U.S.A has been reported to struggle with the symptoms of depression that include decreased appetite, loss of interest, energy, mood swings, sleep problems, and more.

You, as an adult, would probably think what would be the reason for a young person to fall into deep depression when they seem as if they have no care in the world and their only job is to study. Well, no.

A lot of today’s teens have to study and work at the same time, and then there is the pressure of getting accepted at college, doing their best in school, satisfying their parents’ expectations, and the list goes on and on.

But now researchers seem to have found yet another reason that has been causing the rates of teen depression and suicide to increase. And it is all because of their smartphones use!

The study was first published in November 2017 in the Clinical Psychological Science. The group of authors was investigating the link between smartphone use and the rise of teen depression and suicide rates over the years since the smartphones have first hit the market in 2012.

It took a short period of only five years from 2010 to 2015 for the rates of teen depression to increase by 33 percent and the teen suicide rates to increase by 23 percent. And then there is the percentage of teens who had actually succeeded in committing suicide that has increased by 31 percent.

We are talking about some very upsetting numbers. And one of the major causes of depression has been pointed out to be their smartphone use. It all lays at the time that these teens actually spend scrolling on their smartphones.

It was discovered that teens who are spending more than five hours a day online had at least one suicide factor as compared with those who have been spending only half to one hour a day online.

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There is another study that has demonstrated how the use of social networks is the cause of unhappiness in the teens’ lives. And then there is another study who had half of the participants to avoid Facebook for one whole week and the other half to continue with their regular use of Facebook.

At the end of the week, the half that had given up Facebook had reported feeling less depressed as compared with the other group!

Although it is not clear exactly how spending so much time online leads so easily towards depression, at least we have this one study to hold on to. This is the perfect indicator for all parents to reconsider their decision to buy their children smartphones before they are really prepared. 

Each year we hear about new brands of smartphones being advertised. And we are not going to lie — admit it, most of us are looking forward to changing our old phone for a newer model even if our old phone is functioning perfectly.

So why would we expect teens to do the opposite thing? It has become so normal to see a smartphone in every teen’s hand and even small children now. But, unfortunately, these smartphones turned out to be one of the many causes of depression among young people.

And in most cases, if left untreated, depression very easily leads to suicide.

So while the teen suicide rates have been through the roof, researchers have developed new theory and demonstrated their finding on how the many hours that these young people spend online, on their smartphones is one of the reasons for the high depression and suicide rates among this target group.

So, perhaps it is time to set some ground rules on the use of smartphones and computers for a change and do what is best for your child.

RELATED: Why So Many More Kids Today Are Facing Depression And Mental Health Issues

Donna Begg is an expert editor, a mentor, analyst, and a researcher.