Heavy Cell Phone Use Linked to Depression, Sleep Problems in Young People

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 17, 2012 
 Young people who heavily use cell phones and computers also complain more about sleep disturbances, stress and other mental health problems, according to researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
“Public health advice should therefore include information on the healthy use of this technology,” says researcher Sara Thomée from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.
Doctoral student Thomée and her research team conducted four separate studies aimed at investigating the correlation between computers and cell phones, and their impact on the mental health of young adults.
Researchers gave questionnaires to 4,100 young adults (ages 20-24) and interviewed 32 heavy users of information and communication technology (ICT).
The findings reveal that extreme use of cell phones and computers may be linked to stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms. The researchers could not determine causation, so it may be that people with depression or sleep problems are simply more likely to reach out to others using mobile technology.
“We looked at the effects both quantitatively and qualitatively and followed up the volunteers a year on,” explains Thomée, who will present the results in her upcoming thesis.
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