British scientists: social networks and smartphones do not cause mental problems in adolescents

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British scientists: social networks and smartphones do not cause mental problems in adolescents

British scientists have not found an increase in the link between gadget use and adolescent mental health over the past 30 years. This contradicts popular claims about the harmful effects of smartphones and social media on young people.

More than 430,000 children and adolescents aged 10 to 15 took part in a study by the Oxford Internet Institute, conducted since 1991. Scientists have studied how the relationship between watching television, using smartphones and social media, and the occurrence of depression, emotional and behavioral problems, and suicidal tendencies has grown over the past 30 years.

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The Oxford study found no significant change between gadget use and mental health problems in adolescents. In addition, scientists have found that over the past 10 years, the impact of television and social media on the occurrence of depression has decreased. At the same time, frequent spending time on social media has begun to have a greater impact on the emotional state of adolescents.

This study does not confirm the concerns of regulators and legislators, who are increasingly talking about the harmful effects of digital technology on the mental state of people, in particular, adolescents.

“We couldn't find a difference between the impact of social media on mental health in 2010 and 2019,” said study co-author Professor Andrew Przybylski.

At the same time, the professor noted that it is premature to draw definitive conclusions on the impact of digital technologies on mental health, and also stated the need for more transparent cooperation between scientists and technology companies.

Factors influencing mental health

When asked, US and UK study participants rated their feelings on a horizontal scale. They were also asked to indicate the amount of time spent on social media or on a mobile device.

The study is published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

In January 2021, another study pointed to a link between overuse of social media and poor health and low self-esteem among adolescents.

The coronavirus pandemic also significantly affected the psychological state of adolescents.

The British government has announced a £ 500m investment in mental health services, of which £ 79m is for children and adolescents.

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