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Fox News: Teens’ late-night cellphone use linked with mental health problems

October 5, 2012

Fox News website has an article that correlates late night use of mobile phones by teens to the incidence of mental health problems, including suicidal ideation.

The article explores the possibility of a causal link – that sleep deprivation can lead to vulnerability to mental health problems – and there may be something in this. However, it is just as possible and potentially more useful to see whether there is a correlation between underlying social anxiety issues and the compulsive use of mobiles phones and social media.

Teens who use their cellphones after "lights out" may be at increased risk for mental health problems, as well as lost sleep, a new study from Japan suggests.
In the study, teens who frequently used their cellphones after going to bed were more likely to have poor mental health and suicidal thoughts, and to have harmed themselvesexternal-link.png, compared with those who did not use their phones at that time of night.
The link held true even after the researchers took into account other factors known to affect mental health, such as alcohol and drug use.
In addition, among young teens, cellphone use after lights out was linked with shorter time spent asleep, the researchers said.
Researchers caution that the study only found an association, and they cannot say that nighttime cellphone useexternal-link.png causes mental health problems or reduced sleep. It could be that teens who use phones after bedtime are a specific group, one already prone to mental health troubles.
However, the findings add to a growing body of research linking poor sleep with mental problems in teens. For instance, a study published last year found that teens who had trouble sleeping were at increased risk for suicidal thoughtsexternal-link.png and self-harm.

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