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Spending a Long Time on Your Phone Isn't Bad for Mental Health, Report Says


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General smartphone usage is a poor predictor of anxiety, depression, or stress, according to researchers who advise caution on digital detoxes.

Researchers from Lancaster University, the University of Bath, and the University of Lincoln describe their work in "Quantifying Smartphone 'Use': Choice of Measurement Impacts Relationships Between 'Usage' and Health," published in Technology, Mind, and Behavior.

The team measured the time spent on smartphones by 199 iPhone users and 46 Android users for one week. Participants were also asked about their mental and physical health, completing clinical scales that measure anxiety and depression symptoms.

"A person's daily smartphone pickups or screen time did not predict anxiety, depression, or stress symptoms," says lead author Heather Shaw of Lancaster University. "Additionally, those who exceeded clinical 'cut off points' for both general anxiety and major depressive disorder did not use their phone more than those who scored below this threshold."

Co-author David Ellis, from the University of Bath, says the results "add[s] to a growing body of research that suggests reducing general screen time will not make people happier. Instead of pushing the benefits of digital detox, our research suggests people would benefit from measures to address the worries and fears that have grown up around time spent using phones."

From Lancaster University
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