Here’s how long teenage girls spend on their smartphones each day

In Finland, some teenage girls spend almost six hours a day on their smartphones, research reports. — AFP Relaxnews

At a time when screen use is central to concerns in many countries around the world, a new Finnish study has looked at the time spent by teenage girls on their smartphones. And the conclusions are clear: some spend almost six hours a day on their smartphones, with a strong appetite for games and social media, which was found to be a source of addiction, anxiety, fatigue and loneliness.

A team led by a researcher at the University of Helsinki, Finland, set out to objectively measure the amount of time teenage girls spend on their smartphones, and in particular on social networking sites. To do so, the scientists based their study on no fewer than 1,164 teenage girls aged 15 to 16 from 21 secondary schools in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. Not only were the participants asked to estimate their daily smartphone use, but they were also asked to provide information via screenshots over several days.

It should be noted that 508 of the teenagers did not provide the screenshots requested, but were nevertheless included in analyses for possible addiction to social networks and well-being impacts. The scientists used the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS) to measure this potential addiction, as well as other recognised objective scales to determine anxiety and body appreciation. Information on mood, tiredness, current state of health and loneliness, on the other hand, was self-reported.

A potential impact on mental health

Published in the journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood, the research reports that the average daily time participants spent on a smartphone was 350 minutes, or almost six hours, while the average time spent on social media was 231 minutes, or almost four hours. This result exceeds, although is fairly close to, the time estimated by the teenagers themselves, ie, just over five hours a day. The data also shows how often smartphones are picked up – albeit for only 13% of the sample group. This was found to be between 58 and 356 times a day, depending on the participant.

In addition to the frequency and duration of use, the researchers looked at the impact of these uses on the well-being of adolescent girls. More than a third (37%) scored above the threshold for an anxiety disorder, while daily time spent on social networks was associated with lower grade point average, higher social media addiction scores, higher anxiety levels and poorer body image.

"The implications of nearly six hours of daily smartphone use and its associations with adolescent wellbeing are serious. While some advocate for increased mental health services to tackle the rise in adolescent anxiety, no services will suffice unless the root causes are addressed," the authors of this observational study conclude in a news release. Previous studies have established links between screen time and sleep, screen time and body mass index, and screen use and mental health issues. – AFP Relaxnews

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