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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Study links early smartphone use with poor mental health

At what age did you get your first smartphone or tablet? The younger the age of getting the first smartphone, the worse the mental health," report Jon Haidt and Zach Rausch. They cite a report by Sapien Labs, which surveys mental well-being around the world. The effect is strongest for young women.


Sapien researches how social and technological changes affect humans through its Global Mind Project, they write. Their mental health research has found a decline in well-being for younger generations, especially for women.


You can get a reading on your Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) and request access to the full dataset.


Parents should keep their kids off of smartphones, and schools should ban smartphones in class, write Haidt and Rausch.


Wait Until 8th tries to counteract social pressure by asking elementary-school parents to delay smartphone use until 8th grade, they write.The group lists not-so-smart phones parents can buy so they can read their children, but not worry about app addiction.


"Wait Until 9th" or "Or Wait Until High School" would be even better, write Haidt and Rausch. Making elementary and middle schools smartphone-free would be good for children -- and for their teachers and principals.


They suggest requiring students' phones to be placed in a phone locker or in a lockable pouch. Phones "distract students and disrupt education, even when they are kept in students’ pockets."


At an Akron high school that banned smartphones, students are socializing again, reports Jennifer Pignolet in the Akron Beacon Journal. They're more focused in class.


"It's like going back in time," instructional coach Anne Harmon said. Teachers told her the first day without phones was "their best day of instruction in five years." They also noticed so many kids, whose social lives were put on hold for a year for the pandemic, laughing again.

A student thought going phone-less was going to be "like the world was going to end," but admitted she'd gotten used to it.

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