OK Boomer: Do Phones Really Impact Teen Mental Health?

Hanna Walker | Reporter

YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, the list goes on.

phoneGeneration Z is the first to ever have constant access to the internet, a thing becoming increasingly vital to modern society. People are becoming more dependent on mapping programs and search engines, and one thing is for certain: our social lives are becoming rapidly intertwined with the internet.

To some degree or another, many people can say that their mental health has been impacted by the internet. A study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that young adults ages 14 to 24 think platforms like “Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all [lead] to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness.”

Senior Brayden Silver said that social media can certainly affect one’s mental health if it is used regularly.

“I think that anything that becomes a significant part of our lives can affect brain chemistry, just like drinking coffee every morning can change you if you stop consuming it,” Silver said.

Most teenagers love technology, averaging 6 to 9 hours of phone usage a day. Sophomore Katie Hoffbauer said she believes that phone usage can have an impact on mental health, but the strength of that change has more to do with what you use your phone for.

“I use my phone three to four hours a day, but I believe [the impact] depends on what I see on my phone,” Hoffbauer said.

A similar study, conducted by Swansea University, found that young adults experience poorer mental health when using the internet frequently. In the study, subjects experienced withdrawal symptoms as they decreased their amount of time spent on the internet.

However, the effects of our phones aren’t all bad. From more efficient communication to streamlined organization, phones have improved many aspects of our everyday lives.brain

Sophomore Andrew Harris said he finds that his phone is a more positive influence in his life, and has noticed an increase in his tendency to socially branch out.

“My social life is definitely positive! I’ve met loads of people from all across the world, [ones] that I never would have been in touch with if it weren’t for my phone,” said Harris.

As for a phone’s affect on mental health, Harris said that correlation does not exactly equal causation.

“I don’t feel like phones have anything to do with mental health at all,” Harris said. “Phones are kind of an escape from the stress of the world.”

Graphics by Morgan Jones.


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