Study Shows Smartphone Dependency May Increase Risk for Depression

University of Arizona researchers study over 300 adolescents

Young people who are hooked on their smartphones may be at an increased risk for depression and loneliness, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

A growing body of research has identified a link between smartphone dependency and symptoms of depression and loneliness. However, it’s been unclear whether reliance on smartphones precedes those symptoms, or whether the reverse is true: that depressed or lonely people are more likely to become dependent on their phones.

In a study of 346 older adolescents, ages 18-20, researcher Matthew Lapierre and his collaborators found that smartphone dependency predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around.

“The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms,” said Lapierre, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.”

The study, to be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, will focus on smartphone dependency rather than actual smartphone usage, which the researchers concede has numerous benefits.

SOURCE: University of Arizona

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