Smartphone use can hamper mental well-being in young adults

San Francisco: If you are a young adult and spend a lot of time on your smartphone that it may cause a rapid decline in your mental health, says new research.

According to a report by Sapien Labs, the growth of smartphone use and an increase in social isolation point to a decline in the mental health of young adults aged 18-24.

“Data shows that people now spend 7-10 hours online,” Tara Thiagarajan, Chief Scientist at Sapien Labs, said in a statement.

“This leaves little time for in-person social engagement. Prior to the Internet, by the time someone turned 18, we estimate that they would likely have spent anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 hours interacting with peers and family in person.”

And now, Thiagarajan said, the research showed the internet age has likely cut that range down to 1,500 to 5,000 hours.

She mentioned that social interaction teaches people how to read facial expressions, body language, physical touch, appropriate emotional responses, and conflict resolution, life skills that are crucial for socio-emotional development. Without these skills, people can feel detached from society and possibly harbour suicidal thoughts.

The report also revealed that over the pandemic, the mental well-being of each younger age group of adults fell much more dramatically.

Across 34 countries where data was acquired, the decline, particularly for young adults (ages 18-24), exacerbates a trend that existed prior to the pandemic but began after 2010, alongside the growth of smartphone use.

Prior to 2010, studies showed that young adults had the highest levels of psychological well-being, but since then, the trend has been in the opposite direction.

The study outlined the key symptoms that impact the majority of young adults 18-24 or are most significantly amplified or deteriorated compared to older adults.

These include obsessive, strange or unwanted thoughts, self-image, self-worth and confidence, feelings of being detached from reality, relationships with others, suicidal thoughts, fear and anxiety, and feelings of sadness, distress or hopelessness.

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