Studies have found that excessive smartphone use among young people has been associated with difficulties in cognitive-emotion regulation, impulsivity, impaired cognitive function, addiction to social networking, shyness, depression, loneliness, stress, social anxiety. Parents may feel they are cushioning their children by keeping them safe at home and indeed teens are physically safer, they are less likely to get into a car accident or drink alcohol but psychologically they are vulnerable.
Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed in the past decade such that we are now experiencing a global teen mental health crisis.
Meanwhile mental health researchers in the US have observed that symptoms of depression, suicide risk factors and suicide rates among teens increased sharply in 2012, coinciding with the acceleration of smartphone ownership particularly among those younger generations. It has been customary for commentators to point out that correlation does not prove causation, but Jonathan Haidt, a leading expert in the field, contends that as evidence of harm mounts, this position is becoming harder to defend. He writes, “There is now a great deal of evidence that social media is a substantial cause, not just a tiny correlate, of depression and anxiety, and therefore of behaviors related to depression and anxiety, including self-harm and suicide.”