Is psychological distress connected to screen time in young people?

  • Addict Behav

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • The rate of mental health issues among American adolescents has increased simultaneously with the elevated use of electronic devices (EUED) such as smartphones, according to an analysis of ongoing studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The incidence of psychological distress was 1.5 times higher in those with EUED.

Why this matters

  • The prevalence of EUED in young people in the United States increased from 24.9% in 2009 to 43.1% in 2017.

Study design

  • Data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (n=75,807) were assessed to investigate the association between EUED and psychological distress among youth in grades 9-12.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • The weighted prevalence of all 3 mental health issues (depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts) increased from 2009 to 2017 (going from 31.9% to 35.7%; P<.001>
  • A simultaneous rise in EUED was noted from 2009 to 2017 (going from 24.9% to 43.1%).
  • A higher level of psychological distress was noted among youth with EUED vs those without EUED (aOR range, 1.33-1.58).

Limitations

  • A possibility of residual/unmeasured confounding.
  • Observational study.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm

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