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Study shows phone use boosts mood of teenagers

MedicalXpress Breaking News-and-Events May 31, 2024

A pair of pediatric psychologists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has found evidence that use of smart phones may boost teenagers' mood slightly. Matt Minich and Megan Moreno published their results in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Social media and some mainstream media have been reporting in recent years that phone use by young people may be stunting their emotional and/or social maturity. In this new effort, the researchers, noting that little research has been done on the topic, conducted a study to better understand the impact of phone use by teenagers of various ages on mood.

The researchers sent a short survey to 235 teenagers (12 to 17 years old) that had volunteered to participate in the project.

But instead of randomly asking the teens questions regarding how they thought their phone use impacted their mood, they used an Ecological Momentary Assessment procedure in which respondents are asked about their mood at the moment they are taking the survey.

In this case, such moments would occur while a teen was using their phone, since the survey was text message based.

The project lasted for six days. Each of the volunteers received 30 surveys at random times during the day. The volunteers rated their current mood on a scale of 1 to 7 and the questions were phrased to measure real-time mood and mood just before starting use of their phone.

The researchers found that the volunteers rated their mood slightly higher when they were actively using their phone. They also found that the mood of the volunteers rose when they started to use their phone—moving from an average of 5 to 5.5 on the scale. They noted that many of the teens reported finding their moods improving as they were using their phone.

The researchers conclude by reporting a positive association for teen use of smart phones as a social instrument.

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