Research conducted by Murdoch and Griffith Universities in Australia tracked changes in late-night mobile phone use, sleep, and mental health indicators over three years in a large sample of teens reported Gulf News.
They found that adolescents' late-night mobile phone use was directly linked to poor quality sleep, which subsequently led to poorer mental health outcomes, reduced coping, and lowered self-esteem.
A longitudinal study of 1,101 Australian high school students aged between 13 and 16 found poor-quality sleep associated with late-night texting or calling was linked to a decline in mental health, such as depressed moods and declines in self-esteem and coping ability.
Heavy smartphone use can make you depressed
co-author Dr Kathryn Modecki from the Griffith Menzies Health Institute said, "We found that teenagers who start out as relatively ‘healthy’ in terms of their late-night mobile use early in high school tend to show steeper escalations in their late-night mobile use over the next several years."
Lead researcher, Lynette Vernon of Murdoch University in Perth told that her findings were evidence of the need for curfews for teenagers to be established around the use of devices in their bedrooms. Adolescents who used their phones as alarms should replace them with clocks in order to maintain “physical boundaries”, she said.
Researchers examined teenagers’ mobile phone use and their subsequent changes in well-being over four years of high school from 2010 to 2013 and found increasingly unencumbered access led to increases in psychosocial maladjustment.
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"What is especially compelling," said Dr Modecki, "is that these increases in poor sleep, in turn, led to rises in depressed mood and externalizing behaviors, and declines in self-esteem and coping one year later," said Dr Modecki. "These effects were highly robust, across the various outcomes Dr Vernon examined."
Dr Vernon said that although these results were concerning, the answer was not as simple as just banning adolescent phone use, "There are many potential benefits of mobile technology, but these results demonstrate the importance of adults 'meeting teens where they are', enforcing electronic curfews, and teaching good sleep habits during the high school years."