Teenagers should switch off their smartphones at least one hour before bedtime to avoid depression, sleeplessness and other problems, said experts in a new study.
Constant use of the mobile phone late into the night increases the risk of sleep-related problems, symptoms of depression and fear of isolation later in life, said researchers who have studied the effect of smartphones on teenagers since 2007.
With free WhatsApp, the use of smartphones late in the night and fear of loosing one’s mobile phone and keeping it bedside are some of the symptoms of misuse of mobile phones affecting the digital media use pattern.
The study, conducted by the University of Basel, compared the digital media use between teenagers with smartphones and their peers with conventional mobile phones.
It roped int 362 adolescents (12–17 year olds, M = 14.8, SD = 1.3; 44.8 % female) for the study and found that teenagers with smartphones spent double the time on internet during the week days than their peers with conventional mobile phones, in the ratio of two hours to one hour daily, noted the researchers.
They have also sent 85 messages daily compared to seven messages sent by traditional mobile phone users. In addition, some habits like putting off the device or keeping it in silent mode is not visible among the tradition phone users.
While 47 percent of ordinary mobile users are found to be switching off their devices before going to bed, only 17 percent of smartphone owners switched them off before sleep.
The consequences of overuse or constant use of the smartphone will be seen in the form of sleep disorders or severe daytime tiredness among the teenagers. Their only suggestion is to switch off smartphone one hour before going to bed. “The results of this study suggest that adolescents might benefit from education regarding sleep hygiene and the risks of electronic media use at night,” said researchers in the paper.
The study has been published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.