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  • Writer's pictureJunior Oliveira

YOUTH INTERNET ADDICTION LINKED TO DEPRESSION: see the 13 signs of Internet addiction in youngsters

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

The habit of checking smartphones before going bed and soon after waking up is very common, especially among youngsters. We can say that we've never spent so much time staring at screens as we are doing nowadays - and researchers around the world are determined to understand what the effects are on our brains. In a study conducted by Stony Brook University and presented to the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, the researchers reported a connection between the use of technology and depression among teenagers. So, what do parents want to know? Is Internet dependency messing with our teen's mental health?

Approximately 3,000 people around the age of 15 were interviewed. The survey questioned how much time they spent on four types of screen activities and using the Internet in any medium. The researchers also asked the sample whether they had any symptoms of depression. Young people who spend more time in front of screens of any kind were more likely to present symptoms of depression. The difference between this study and other similar ones is that it seems to have found an unexpected culprit: in addition to social isolation, compromised sleep could also lead to depression.

In another study conducted by University College London (UCL) released in London pointed out that girls are twice as likely as boys to experience symptoms of depression in connection with the use of social networks. The study analysed data from nearly 11,000 young people in the UK. The researchers found that 14-year-old girls represent the most aggressive social media user group, with 40% of them using it for more than three hours a day, compared to 20% of boys.

Activists have urged the British government to recognise the risk of pages such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to young people's mental health. The UCL study found out that 25% of the girls tested had clinically relevant signs of depression, while only 11% of the boys had depression. The researchers also pointed out that the highest rate of depression is due to online harassment, poor sleep, and low self-esteem, accentuated by time spent on social media. About 75% of 14-year-old girls suffering from depression also have low self-esteem, are dissatisfied with their appearance and sleep seven hours or less a night.

How to identify the potential warning signs for children making a pathological use of the Internet: Taking into account all these worrying stats above, I can say that Internet addiction among youngsters is a growing concern in our society. I have also found a list of some potential signs that can help parents and carers to evaluate their child’s condition regarding this matter, available on the WebRoot web page. These signs are provided by Dr Kimberly Young, Director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, who has been working with treatment for Internet addiction using since 1995. And if you think that your child needs help, please seek medical advice.

1 - Loses track of time while online

2 - Sacrifices needed hours of sleep to spend time online

3 - Becomes agitated or angry when online time is interrupted

4 - Checks email or online messages several times a day

5 - Becomes irritable if not allowed access to the Internet

6 - Spends time online in place of homework or chores

7 - Prefers to spend time online rather than with friends or family

8 - Disobeys time limits that have been set for Internet usage

9 - Lies about amount of time spent online or "sneaks" online when no one is around

10 - Forms new relationships with people he or she has met online

11 - Seems preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computer

12 - Loses interest in activities that were enjoyable before he or she had online access

13 - Becomes irritable, moody or depressed when not online

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