One in four young people "addicted" to their mobile phone

29 November 2019, 13:32

A quarter of young people are so dependent on their mobile phone it is like an "addiction"
A quarter of young people are so dependent on their mobile phone it is like an "addiction". Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Almost a quarter of young people become "panicked" and "upset" if they cannot have constant access their mobile phone, according to a study from King's College London.

The research also discovered that many young people cannot control the amount of time they spend on their phone.

Experts are now warning of the "serious consequences" such addictions can have on mental health.

The findings, published in BMC Psychiatry, used data from 42,000 young people across 41 studies.

It found that 23% had behaviour that was consistent with addiction.

These can include anxiety over not being able to access their mobile phone, not being able to moderate the time they are spending on their phone and using their mobile phone to the point where it was detrimental to other activities.

These behaviours could be linked to other problems, including stress, depression, lack of sleep and reduced achievement in school.

One of the authors, Nicola Kalk, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London, said: "Smartphones are here to stay and there is a need to understand the prevalence of problematic smartphone usage.

"We don't know whether it is the smartphone itself that can be addictive or the apps that people use.

"Nevertheless, there is a need for public awareness around smartphone use in children and young people, and parents should be aware of how much time their children spend on their phones."

Co-author Samantha Sohn said: "Addictions can have serious consequences on mental health and day-to-day functioning, so there is a need for further investigation into problematic smartphone usage".