One in four young people addicted to smartphones claims new research, Christian academic says it raises bigger questions

Fri 29 Nov 2019
By Ruth Sax

New research claims one in four young people are displaying addictive behaviour when it comes to using their smartphones.

King’s College London carried out the study, which says almost a quarter of young people are so dependent on their smartphones that it becomes like an addiction.

Behaviour displayed by young people who did not have constant access to their mobile phones included becoming “panicky” or “upset.



The study also showed many youngsters could not control the amount of time they spend on the phone.

The study warns that such addictions have "serious consequences" for mental health.

The research, published in BMC Psychiatry, analysed 41 studies involving 42,000 young people in an investigation into "problematic smartphone usage".

Dr Bex Lewis is a Christian, a senior lecturer in digital marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’.

Speaking to Premier she suggested this raises wider questions.

“This just highlights that we want to look a bit deeper into whether there's a problem with mobile phones causing potentially addiction or whether actually it's something to do with society that is causing people to want spend longer on their phone,” she said.

Lewis suggests it is better to look at the quality of what people are doing on their phones, rather than necessarily the quantity of time being spent on them and says parents should monitor children’s screen time.

“People need to look individually at their phone usage, because it will be different for everyone, what a good amount of screen time is.

"I think parents should definitely be involved in their children’s use of phones. I think conversation is key and talking to them about it, looking at what they are doing on it and trying to encourage a balance.

“We should use the resources that we've been given by God responsibly, and our time and our smartphones are resources that we've been given, so we need to ask the question, how do we use them well?

“I'm passionate about getting Christians involved in the industries that are creating the machines, creating the algorithms, creating the technology and therefore shaping the current social shaping of technology.”

The study found 23 per cent had behaviour that was consistent with an addiction - such as anxiety over not being able to use their phone, not being able to moderate the time spent and using mobiles so much that it was detrimental to other activities.


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