The study found that teenagers who spent more time online were more stressed and more likely to feel sad and had suicidal thoughts. A South Korean survey described the condition of 30,000 teenagers aged 16 to 18.
Time Spent on the Internet May Affect Mental Health
Time spent online outside of teaching affects adolescent mental health. The study results show that internet use in adolescence is associated with emotional and physical problems, but it is not yet clear what factors play a key role in this.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 30,000 Korean high school students aged 16 to 18 who completed an online questionnaire in 2018 – a Korean youth risk behavior survey. The authors also had information on non-academic internet use, mental health, and general characteristics of students.
Students in the study described spending more than three hours a day on the Internet for non-school purposes. The Internet was used mainly by lower graders, students with low academic results, low economic status students.
Life Offline May Lead to Greater Well-being
According to the authors, students who used the Internet less performed better in several indicators; even after checking all available demographics, they reported better health, less stress, less grief, and fewer suicidal thoughts than the group that used the Internet more intensively for non-school purposes.
Although these findings do not prove any causal link between Internet use and mental health, the authors believe that active support is needed to reduce the feelings of stress and sadness in adolescents.
Programs that promote healthy Internet use, replace Internet use with social and physical activities, and help adolescents maintain good social relationships could play an important role.
Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0264948, featured photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.