Earlier smartphone use is associated with diminished mental health in adulthood, according to top psychologists’ analysis of the world’s largest mental health database.
“The younger the age of getting the first smartphone, the worse the mental health that the young adult reports today,” psychologist and NYU professor Jonathan Haidt said.
“This is true in all the regions studied,” they wrote. “The relationships are consistently stronger for women.”
“When teens traded in their flip phones for smartphones with social media, we began to see a spike in teenage mental illness, particularly among girls,” Rausch said.
Nonprofit research foundation Sapien Labs released the data analyzed by Haidt and Rausch.
Researchers analyzed reported accounts of mental functioning in detail, including mood and outlook, adaptability and resilience, and drive and motivation, according to the report.
“The respondents who got their first smartphone before they were 10 years old are doing worse, on average, than those who didn’t get one until they were in their teens,” Haidt and Rausch wrote.
The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by two Democrats and two Republicans, “would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media apps and would require parental consent for 13 through 17 year-olds,” according to an April 26 news release from Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a cosponsor of the bill.