Young mobile users risk mental illness
Young people who use computers and mobile phones intensively at greater risk of suffering from insomnia, stress and mental illness, according to a new study. (AFP / Frederic J.Brown)
To constantly be connected and always available is a reality for many young people. Intensive use of cell phones and computers is a serious health risk, according to a new Swedish study.
Communications technology has been rapid and many young people have a strong need to always have contact with friends and keep updated in the news on the internet. But there is a high price as young heavy users of computers and mobile phones pay as insomnia, stress and mental illness.
The student Sara Thomée, along with colleagues at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, in four different studies have examined how the mental health consequences of young people who use computers and mobile.
The basis of the survey included the responses from 4100 young people aged 20-24 years and interviews with 32 young heavy users of computers and mobiles.
The results show a clear link between stress, sleep disorders, mental illness and intensive use of cell phones and computers.
- We have explored the effects both quantitatively and qualitatively, and followed up on people a year later. The conclusion is that the intensive use of ICT can have effects on mental health, says Sara Thomée in a statement.
In both men and women there was increased sleep problems and depressive symptoms in frequent mobile use.
- The persons who are experiencing mobile phone's constant availability as stressful are those which highest reporting on mental illness, says Sara Thomée.
Many young people often sit up at night at the computer without taking breaks.
- To frequently use the computer late at night is not only associated with sleep disorders, but also with stress and mental ill health in both men and women, says Sara Thomée.
Thomée calls for preventive public health measures that should also include advice and information to young people on how to use communications technology in a healthy manner.
- They include the need to take breaks, to allow time for recovery with intensive use and to set limits on the availability, says Sara Thomée.
Mona Nilsson, journalist and author who for many years covered the dangers of cell phones and electromagnetic radiation, is not surprised by the results of the study but worried for the young as she feels they are misled by the authorities and industry about the risks:
- It is known since decades, high exposure to electromagnetic fields and cell phone radiation is a strong stressor and that the radiation causes sleep problems and depressive syntom. This is because the radiation affects neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain and affects the function of the central nervous system, says Mona Nilsson The Epoch Times.
Mona Nilsson is of the opinion that schools should take responsibility and stop the use of mobile phones and computers during school hours.
- It's time you go out and recommend that children and teenagers should use the phone only for emergency calls and text messages, and that the massive introduction of laptops and wifi in schools is stopped. We already have too many young people who suffers from psychological problems and the long-term consequences can be very serious if we do not begin to tell the truth about the risks of the wireless technology, says Mona Nilsson.
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