A study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal found that an increased time with electronic devices might have contributed to the increase of suicidal thoughts among teens, especially teen girls.
San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge saw the correlation between extended hours on screens and symptoms of loneliness. Twenge cannot prove that one is caused by the other but feels her findings should serve as a warning for parents.
“One hour, maybe two hours [a day], doesn’t increase risk all that much,” Twenge says. “But once you get to three hours — and especially four and then, really, five hours and beyond — that’s where there’s much more significant risk of suicide attempts, thinking about suicide and major depression.”
Twenge and her team reviewed national surveys from over half a million people ages 13 to 18. The questions all danced around the topic of suicide and chronic depression. The surveys prompted the students to react to sentences like, “Life often feels meaningless,” or “I feel my life is not very useful.”
In the five year span leading up to 2015, there was an increase from 16 percent to 22 percent in teens who answered “yes” to at least three of these questions. Teen girls were six times more likely to report symptoms of depression than their boy counterparts. Twenge feels the variation of data between the genders is dependent on the type of electronic time the teens partake in.
While girls spend a great deal of time on social media concerning themselves on matters of popularity, guys are typically playing video games purely for entertainment purposes. It can be implied that girls are placing themselves in a position to have low self-esteem due to seeking self-value in online interactions, although, this is not yet proven. During the study, Twenge’s team discovered that yearly teen suicide deaths increased from 1,386 in 2010 to 1,769 in 2015.