Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Night Phone Use Harms Adolescent Mental Heath

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Late-night mobile phone use by adolescents is directly linked to poor quality sleep, leading to poorer mental health outcomes, reduced coping and lowered self-esteem according to the first longitudinal study that has investigated how night phone use and mental health were connected.

“We have demonstrated how poor sleep is the key link connecting an increase in night-time mobile use with subsequent increases in psychosocial issues,” said lead researcher Dr Lynette Vernon of Murdoch University.

“Heavy mobile phone use becomes a problem when it overtakes essential aspects of adolescent life. In this case, we see issues when it overtakes time set aside for sleep. We found that late night phone use directly contributed to poor sleep habits, which over time led to declines in overall well-being and mental health.”

The research was part of the Youth Activity Participation Study, which surveyed 1100 students from 29 Australian schools annually from Year 8 until Year 11. Students were asked what time of the night they received or sent text messages and phone calls, and their perceptions of their sleep quality. The researchers also investigated adolescents’ symptoms of depressed mood, involvement in delinquency or aggression, and their coping and self esteem over time.

In Year 8, more than 85% of students owned a mobile phone and around one-third of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.