The report blames smartphones for poor mental health in those aged 18-24

Report by Sabine Labs It suggests that smartphone use may be responsible for the continuing decline in mental health of young adults aged 18-24 years. The report notes that before the internet, by the time someone turns 18, they have spent “15,000 to 25,000 hours interacting with peers and family in person.” But with the internet, that number has fallen to the 1500-5000 hour range.

Young adults spend too much time on smartphones instead of learning social skills

This decrease in social interaction prevents people from learning important skills such as how to read facial expressions, body language, physical touch, appropriate emotional responses, and conflict resolution, says Tara Thiagarajan, chief scientist at Sapien Labs. Thiagarajan noted that people who lack these skills can end up disconnecting from society and feeling suicidal.

The data was obtained in 34 countries where deterioration in the mental health of young people aged 18-24 began before the outbreak of the epidemic. The decline began after 2010, coinciding with the increase in smartphone use. Prior to 2010, young people had the highest levels of mental health. Since then, the trend has been going in the opposite direction.

If you know a heavy smartphone user in the 18-24 age group, watch for the following symptoms that may be indicative of a mental problem:
  • Obsessive, strange, or unwanted thoughts
  • Self-image, self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Relationships with others
  • suicidal thoughts
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Feelings of sadness, distress or hopelessness.

As Thiagarajan says, “The data shows that people now spend 7 to 10 hours online. This leaves little time for personal social engagement. This highlights the scale and nature of the challenges of social isolation and digital interaction at the expense of personal social interaction.”

The report notes that the symptoms listed above indicate a decline in the social self, which is a composite measure of how we view ourselves and the ability to form and maintain relationships—essentially a view of how an individual fits into the social fabric. This is a constellation of symptoms that dominate the mental profile of young adults and are not associated with any single disorder as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the standard classification system for mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States).

Do you think that the time young people spend on their smartphones is costing them the ability to learn the social skills they need to deal with life? Or is this just another attempt to make technology a scapegoat for the decline of civilization?

Smartphone users are encouraged to use Screen Time or Digital Wellbeing

If you feel you need to monitor your smartphone usage more, you can always use Screen Time on iOS to track your iPhone usage. On Android, Digital Wellbeing is available.

To turn on Screen Time on your iPhone, follow these instructions:

  • go to Settings > Device usage time.
  • handle Turn on Device Usage.
  • handle Complete.
  • Choose That’s my country [device] or This is my baby [device].

On Android, Digital Wellbeing is still a beta version and is hidden from your app list even if you have it installed on your phone. After installing Digital Wellbeing on your Android device, go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing and Parental Control. Like we said, the icon is hidden by default. If you followed the instructions we just gave you, scroll down and there will be a toggle that says “Show icon in apps list”. Turn on the toggle to see the Digital Wellbeing icon in the list of apps. If you plan to use the app daily, you may want to make sure you have the toggle turned on.

Both An apple duration of use and The Google Digital Wellbeing wants to reduce screen time, reduce the number of notifications you receive each day, and create a period each night for you to disappear with your phone so you can get a restful sleep. It will also give you some control over how your child uses their phone.