Technology can be addicting. You switch on your computer, log online, and are inundated by social media networks, email, games, and more. You switch on your cell phone, and you quickly receive a stream of texts, photos, videos, and other like pieces of content. It can be quite overwhelming and difficult to turn off these new devices.
A new study emphasizes the effects that intense usage of gadgets can have on a person's health. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy
found that young adults who use their mobile phones or computers for a long duration of time before sleep have a greater likelihood of having sleep disturbances, stress, and symptoms of mental health.
The study, conducted by doctoral student Sara Thomée
and her colleagues at the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, included four different exams that analyzed how the mental health of young adults was influenced by the use of computers and mobile phones. In particular, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg works to educate students in the areas of pharmacy, medicine, odontology, and health care sciences.
In the study, the researchers had 4,100 people between the ages of 20 and 24 complete a questionnaire. They also interviewed 32 young heavy tech users. At the end of the project, the investigators found that stress, sleep disorders, and depressive symptoms were related to heavy use of mobile phones and computers.
"We looked at the effects both quantitatively and qualitatively and followed up the volunteers a year on," remarked Thomée in a prepared statement. "The conclusion is that intensive use of [tech] can have an impact on mental health among young adults."
As well, the studies showed different results for males and females in terms of mobile use. Male participants were found to have an increase in sleeping problems due to intensive mobile use. For both males and females, there was a rise in the number of depressive symptoms based on intensive mobile use.
"Those who find the constant accessibility via mobile phones to be stressful are most likely to report mental symptoms," explained Thomée, who will be using the results in her upcoming thesis, in a statement.
Furthermore, the study reported that using the computer without regular breaks could cause problems, including sleeping problems for men as well as sleeping problems and depressive symptoms for women.
"Regularly using a computer late at night is associated not only with sleep disorders but also with stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women," commented Thomée in the statement.
The researchers concluded that a mix of a high amount of computer usage and mobile usage will result in health problems. They propose that public health professionals look into educating and advising young adults. A better understanding of how to use computers and mobile devices will help users in a healthy and productive way.
"This means taking breaks, taking time to recover after intensive use, and putting limits on your availability," noted Thomée in the statement. "Public health advice should therefore include information on the healthy use of this technology."