Scientific researchers are unfortunate people

Teenagers: The more time they spend on their smartphones, the more unhappy

Young people who spend a lot of time on smartphones, tablets or computers are, on average, less satisfied. This is what a team around the psychologist Jean M. Twenge from San Diego State University reports in the specialist magazine "Emotion". The researchers analyzed data from a large US longitudinal study that included more than one million teenagers in grades 8, 10, and 12. The test persons were asked about technology usage behavior and leisure activities as well as how satisfied they felt with their life overall.

Young people who often squatted in front of the screen - be it to play computer games, chat or surf on social networks - were less happy as a result than their peers who preferred to read books, play sports or meet their friends face to face. The happiest teenagers in the sample spent a little less than an hour a day in the digital world. In addition, the longer participants used mobile devices and computers, the more unhappy they were. Twenge therefore advises limiting digital media consumption to two hours a day.

This article is included in Spectrum - The Week, 04/2018

Whether the use of smartphones and the like actually makes you unhappy or, conversely, whether dissatisfied people rather flee into the digital world cannot be judged on the basis of the data. Jean Twenge, however, guesses the former. "Although our study cannot reveal any causal relationships, other studies suggest, for example, that increased use of social media leads to more dissatisfaction, but dissatisfaction does not necessarily lead to increased use of social networks."

In the past, scientists have repeatedly come across a connection between life satisfaction and digital media use. For example, Danish researchers discovered in 2016 that their test subjects were happier if they were prescribed a break from Facebook.