Sunday, July 21, 2024

Smartphone use can actually help teenagers boost their mood -Dlight News

A small study of children aged 12 to 17 suggests that using a smartphone slightly improves their mood, adding to the debate on whether teenagers should have access to the devices.

Experts are split on the matter: some researchers, including Jonathan Haidt at New York University, claim that smartphones may be contributing to a mental health crisis, while others like Pete Etchells at Bath Spa University, UK, argue that there is a lack of evidence to prove such a link.

Now, Matt Minich and Megan Moreno at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have gone further, showing a positive association with smartphones. They enlisted 253 children in the US to take part in a six-day study, sending them 30 short surveys via text at random times between 9am and 9pm.

The surveys asked people if they were on their phone at the time they received the text message, as well as to rate their mood on a 7-point scale at that present moment and before they picked up their phone.

On average, people said their mood had lifted from just below 5 on the 7-point scale to just below 5.5 when using their phone, suggesting they were using the device as a mood management tool. “Adolescents reported higher moods when they were using their phones,” says Minich. “And they reported that their moods had improved during the time that they were using their phones.”

So does this mean smartphones are good for teenagers? “Phones are neither good nor bad,” says Minich. “If a teen is also developing other healthy mood management techniques, it’s likely harmless for them to use their phones in this way. But if phone use becomes a crutch that prevents them from learning other ways to regulate moods, it might become an addictive or compulsive behaviour. Importantly, nothing in our results suggests that smartphone use is harmful for teens.”

Etchells praises the way that Minich and Moreno asked people for responses in the moment rather than only to recall past emotions, which can be misleading. But he disagrees with attempts to suggest that using phones to manage mood can be addictive. “It feels as though there’s this need to acknowledge that phones could still be bad, because we’re so stuck in that way of thinking,” he says.

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