May 24, 2006

Teens' heavy use of cell phones may signal depression

depressedteen010.jpgTeen obsession with their cell phones can be a sign of unhappiness and anxiety, according to a new medical study, reports The Press Democrat.

"... The study, presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto, was among the first to explore the emotional significance of teens' cell phone habits as the device becomes more entrenched in today's youth culture.

Two of every five youths in the United States from age 8 to 18 own a cell phone, according to a recent survey. Students in grades seven through 12 spend an average of an hour a day on their cell phones - about the same amount of time they devote to homework.

Dr. Jee Hyan Ha, lead author of the latest report, said heavy cell phone users involved in his study weren't clinically depressed.

Rather, Ha said, the students probably were suffering from some serious cases of teen angst. The youths may have been unhappy because of a problem in their lives or anxious about their social status. "They are trying to make themselves feel better by reaching out to others," he said.

... Dr. Bruce Spring, assistant professor of Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said that in some cases, light or no use of a cell phone might actually be a more serious warning sign.

"Teens who are really anxious and depressed won't be sending messages or making calls," he said.

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