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Your Smartphone May Be Messing With Your Mind

Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is the first generation to become digital natives. With the widespread adoption of smartphones, there is heightened concern about digital addiction and its impact on mental wellbeing, especially for those aged 18-24.

According to data from the Global Mind ProjectHome to the world’s largest database of comprehensive mental health profiles, there is a worrying correlation between the age at which people first acquired a smartphone and their mental well-being as adults.

Mental well-being is defined here as the ability to effectively cope with stress and life challenges, measured in 47 dimensions of mental function.

He They are getting younger and younger and are buying a smartphone. People are more likely to have mental health problems as young adults, such as suicidal thoughts, a sense of being detached from reality, feelings of aggression towards others, and addiction.

Those who received smartphones in childhood are also more likely to be addicted to digital technology as young adults. Data collected as part of the Global Mind Project, which offers the first insights into the scale of this phenomenon in India, indicates that among the 18-24 age group, 12.5 percent suffer from digital addiction in 2024, up from about 9.3 percent in 2021. (Data is publicly available and a login ID is available upon request.)

The more digitally addicted they are (based on an addiction question rated on a scale of 1 to 9), the worse their mental well-being is, as shown by their scores on the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ).

The MHQ places individuals on a spectrum from distressed to thriving, spanning a possible range of scores from −100 to +200, with negative scores indicating a state of mental well-being that has a significant negative impact on the ability to function.

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Around 40 per cent of Indian youth who are not addicted at all suffer from distress or clinical mental problems, while the corresponding number of those who are addicted is 10. Extreme addiction is 90 percent.According to data from Global Mind, extreme addiction is therefore associated with an almost certain likelihood of mental health problems.

Digital addiction is also associated with suicidal thoughts or intentions among young people in India. Around 55 per cent of those who are not addicted at all have experienced suicidal thoughts or intentions, which is alarmingly high. jumps to 80 percent For those who are extremely addicted to digital technology.

Previous studies have established that sleep is severely compromised among those suffering from digital addiction, a fact corroborated by the data. Around 5 percent of young people who are not addicted to digital technology at all report that they hardly ever sleep, while othersMore than 14 percent of those who are extremely addicted to technology report that they hardly ever sleep.This increase is almost threefold and likely contributes to other mental health problems, as sleep is essential for healthy brain function.

How can we stop the threat?

Our previous analysis offers some insights.

Since the smartphone-first era is so strongly associated with addiction and other mental health issues, parents might try to delay the age of smartphone ownership as late as possible.

Since children feel enormous peer pressure to have a smartphone, one way to solve this problem is for schools to ban their use until the last possible moment. Many countries are now Banning smartphones in schools is being actively consideredwhile schools are also beginning to develop their own bans.

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Public health education on the harmful effects of excessive use of digital technology, as well as other types of interventions, is needed.

We could learn from the way we approach smoking.

In India, massive anti-smoking campaigns have been launched in schools and taxes have been imposed on cigarettes to curb demand, which has reduced cigarette consumption.

Similarly, A study found that exercise can be used Reduce the incidence of digital addiction by regulating the neurobiology of the central and autonomic nervous systems.

Regulation of addictive apps aimed at children, similar to China’s restrictions on video games under age 18, could be beneficial. Recently, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has advocated for Warning labels on social media platforms Similar to those applied to tobacco and alcohol products.

Digital addiction is associated with poorer mental well-being, increased suicidal tendencies and poorer sleep habits among 18-24 year-olds in India. This is worrying, given that much of India’s projected economic growth depends on the productivity of the younger generation.

While Digital addiction now stands at 12.5 percentis growing. There is evidence that delaying the age of smartphone ownership improves mental well-being and reduces suicidal thoughts and intentions.

Overall, more attention could be paid to understanding how digital technology addiction can be curbed, including school policies, parental controls, public health messages and programs, and regulation.

Shailender Swaminathan is Director of the Sapien Labs Center for Human Brain and Mind at Krea University.

Tara Thiagarajan is the founder and chief scientist of Sapien Labs.

Originally published under Creative Commons License by 360 information™.

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