Will you be depressed if you use your cell phone a lot?.
You can read a lot about this, they often grumble with the sentence above. We asked an expert who said there was a chance it would happen, but the situation was far from that simple.
According to a recent study, the rate of suicidal thoughts and depression is frighteningly high among young people born between 1995 and 2012. This level exceeds the values experienced so far, which raises the question: What causes this phenomenon? And what do all these smartphones have to do with it?
Smartphone – The dark side
Atlantic’s 2017 study highlights that the Z, or as psychologist Jean Twenge puts it, the iGen generation sees the world much more cloudy than its older counterparts. There are several explanations for this, but one of the most striking justifications mentions the impact of smartphones.
A 2017 study also found a link between smartphone use and anxiety, but it is difficult to determine exactly what this means on a causal level. On the one hand, researchers point out that smartphone use in excess of normal values is a similar phenomenon to Internet addiction.
On the other hand, it is also mentioned that positive feedback from the online medium (such as “like” received on a post) creates a reward system that is quite easy to get used to. Social recognition has always been an important part of individual and social functioning, but with the advent of the Internet, it has taken on unpredictable proportions. And part of the problem may be rooted somewhere here.
I show better than I am
On the social network, everyone creates for themselves the identity they want. This is shaped by the uploaded images, postings, shares, and any appearance that characterizes our personality and interest. In many cases, it follows that we paint a more positive picture of ourselves than we really are, as no one wants to appear in front of their acquaintances and friends in a color they consider unfavorable.
At first glance, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but unrealistically positive profiles created by others can backfire on how we think about ourselves. You may develop a self-esteem problem, fear of failure, or a feeling of rejection. Is it worth thinking about whether the pictures and posts uploaded by our friends really reflect reality?
Psychologist Jean Twenge draws an interesting parallel in relation to the youthful habits observed in different generations. Among other things, his study draws attention to the fact that while in the case of Generation X, young people started an active social life (such as taking a job) relatively soon, iGen members enter “uppercase” life much later. There are several reasons for this (prolonged learning, specific professions, etc.), but one important factor is that they practically do not have to move out of the apartment to make contact with their peers. Social contacts do not require a physical meeting, they can also maintain contacts through digital channels.
You miss the party
The vast majority of young people interviewed in the Atlantic study feel left out of events (parties, events, concerts, etc.) that would be important to them. This is especially true for girls, where in 2015, 48% more people felt this way than boys. Events are usually advertised on social media, so even those who have not been invited will be notified about them. Such cases provide a breeding ground for feelings of omission and exclusion that can easily lead to depressive thoughts.
Not everything is lost
In addition to these negative effects, we must not forget the positives provided by smartphones either. Technology and the digital world are tools that we can use in many ways. In our next article, we show how smart devices can serve in diagnosing, treating, and alleviating thoughts related to depression and suicide.
The article was written by Andrei Damsa, a psychologist and gamification expert, the professional leader of the PlayersAbout Research Center.
The Extra Lifelaunched as a social responsibility column on SamaGame, it aims to help young people and parents work with professionals to talk about issues that may affect you.
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