November 29, 2017

Screen time associated with young depression and suicide

Sadie Cathcart, Mad in America -  Using data from two nationally representative surveys of students between 8th and 12th grade, a team of researchers from San Diego State University and Florida State University set out to determine the extent to which depressive symptoms and suicidality had shifted between 2010 and 2015 among adolescents, and to examine potential explanations for these shifts. Alarmingly, in their article released this month in the Clinical Psychological Science journal, the researchers detected notable leaps in depressive symptoms (33%), suicide-related outcomes (23%), and suicide rates (31%) in adolescents across this five-year span.

Increases in characteristics associated with depression were found to be concurrent with the rapid escalation of smartphone ownership among teens (which surpassed the 50% threshold in 2012, and reached 92% by 2015). Further, upsurges in depressive symptoms, as well as suicidal ideation and behaviors, were disproportionately high among teen females. Implications of this study may be critical in considering distinctions between the unique needs and worldviews of the iGen (a term for the recent/current generation of teens born after 1995 coined by one of the study’s athors) as compared to past generations of adolescents.


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