Study 3: Smartphone Addiction & Teen Suicide

Smartphone Addiction & Teen Suicide

Ho, J., Choi, Y., Ryu, S. J., & Moon, J. (2023). Association between smartphone usage and health outcomes of adolescents: A propensity analysis using the Korea youth risk behavior survey. PloS One, 18(12), e0294553.

Key Findings on Smartphone Addiction & Teen Suicide:

🔵 Teens glued to their phones (over 4 hours daily) are more likely to consider suicide than those who rarely use them. 

🔵 Interestingly, moderate phone use (2-4 hours) doesn’t seem to significantly increase health risks. Finding a balance is key.

🔵 Spending excessive time on phones can lead to additional problems for teens, including feeling more stressed, having trouble sleeping, using alcohol more, and becoming overly reliant on their phones.

Smartphones have become an undeniable aspect of modern life, leading to increasing concerns about smartphone addiction, particularly for adolescents. While these devices offer numerous benefits like communication, entertainment, and information access, excessive use can have negative consequences for teenage health. A recent study by Ho et al. (2023) explored the link between smartphone usage and health outcomes in teens. Their findings highlight several potential risks associated with prolonged screen time.

Smartphone addiction has been linked to an increased risk of suicidal ideation in adolescents, with those spending over four hours daily on their phones being particularly vulnerable.The study found that adolescents who spend more than 4 hours daily on their phones are significantly more likely to experience thoughts of suicide compared to non-users. This underscores the importance of monitoring phone use and creating open communication channels where teens feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns.

The study also reveals a curvilinear relationship between smartphone use and health risks. In simpler terms, this means that the longer teens spend on their phones each day, the more pronounced the negative effects seem to become. Interestingly, the research suggests that moderate use (2-4 hours daily) doesn’t show a significant increase in most health risks compared to non-users. It’s essential to promote responsible phone habits and help teens establish a healthy balance.

The research identifies a variety of other potential health concerns associated with excessive smartphone use in adolescents who spend over 4 hours daily on their devices. These include: 

  • increased stress perception
  • sleep disturbances
  • substance use (alcohol)

Disrupted sleep patterns due to blue light emission from phone screens and the constant stimulation can lead to problems with focus, mood, and overall well-being. Excessive phone use can also replace healthier activities like exercise and social interaction, which can potentially contribute to stress and social isolation.

To combat smartphone addiction, parents, educators, and healthcare professionals must raise awareness about its risks and promote responsible digital citizenship among teens. Setting screen time limits, creating phone-free zones in the home, and promoting alternative activities are crucial steps in helping teens navigate the digital world while prioritizing their physical and mental health.


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