Lanterns: New Study Shows More Time Spent on Smartphones Linked to Higher Rate of Teen Suicide


New Study Shows More Time Spent on Smartphones Linked to Higher Rate of Teen Suicide

Researchers from Florida State University and San Diego State University found a new study that suggests the more time teens spend time on their smartphones, the more likely they will attempt suicide.

“There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts,” said Thomas Joiner, FSU psychology Professor.

Joiner is advising parents to carefully look out for the amount of time their teenagers spend on their mobiles because it can be “very serious” and “it’s something parents should ponder.”

He and Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at SDSU, studied teen suicide rates that date back 1991. The study identified an increased rate of teen suicide since 2010, largely driven by young girls.

They discovered that 48 percent of teenagers who spent five or more hours per day on their digital device reported suicidal thoughts. However, only 28 percent of teens who spent less than an hour using their device had thoughts of suicide.

According to the CDC, suicide rates for teens jumped to 31 percent from 2010 to 2015, and a national survey saw it rise to 33 percent.

They found that this increase in teen suicides since 2010 correlates with the increase in ownership of cell phones for teenagers. Back in 2012, almost half of Americans owned smartphones, but the numbers increased drastically to 92 percent for teens and young adults by 2015.

They do want parents to know they “shouldn’t think they need to take away their children’s smartphones and other electronic devices” but suggest parents limit “screen time to an hour or two a day.”

“It’s totally unrealistic and probably not even good to think kids will stop using screens,” Joiner advises to parents.

“It comes down to moderation. Parents should try to make non-screen activities as attractive as possible because a lot of them are attractive. It is fun to hang out with your friends or play basketball. Just remind kids those things are available, and they’re just as fun as trading texts. That’s the bottom line.”

Written by Christian Montoya

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