A study shows that suicide rates among teenagers have risen along with their ownership of smartphones and use of social media, suggesting a disturbing link between technology and teen self-harm.
Citing federal data and two nationally representative surveys of more than 500,000 adolescents, researchers found a strong correlation between the time teens began using smartphones a decade ago and a sharp rise in reports of serious mental health issues.
From 2010 to 2015, a record number of teenagers were reporting depressive symptoms and overloading mental health clinics, while suicide rates climbed for the first time in decades, said psychologist Jean Twenge, lead author of the study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
“I’ve never seen such sudden, large changes,” Ms. Twenge said in an interview with The Washington Times, noting that the biggest increase occurred within a single year.
“In this case, we tried to just go systematically through possible explanations and rule them in or out and, at the end of the day, the pronounced increase in smartphone ownership seems like the most logical explanation,” she said. “It was by far the largest change in teens lives between 2012 and 2015.”
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