Research In Action

Research In Action

Impact of Smartphones on Youth
January 31, 2020

Today's Flashback Friday post is inspired by a review article recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that analyzed a variety of data from previous meta-analyses, large-scale public access surveys and preregistered studies, as well as studies of daily assessments of digital technology usage among youth to understand associations between adolescent mental health and digital technology use.

Here are some key highlights and findings from this review article in regard to the link between adolescent depression and digital technology use:

  • Associations between adolescents who report more depressive symptoms and those who report spending more time online vary in direction (studies find both positive and negative links); but, these associations are generally too small to be clinically meaningful, especially when accounting for other factors which may increase the frequency of depressive symptoms.
  • Studies to date are generally unable to distinguish cause and effect relationships between digital technology use and depressive symptoms/well-being. 
  • Recent reviews of studies found that many youth with depressive symptoms may be spending more time online to help themselves feel better or to get more helpful information.

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