Having constant online access through smartphones can have a positive impact on teenagers and strengthen existing friendships, according to a new study.
Candice Odgers, an associate professor at Duke University in North Carolina, and Madeleine George, a graduate student, said that parents' widely held fears about mobile phones damaging their children's lives may not be backed by evidence. In fact, having constant online access through handheld devices can have a positive impact on teenagers and strengthen existing friendships, rather than causing isolation, researchers said.
They found that four fifths of American teenagers own a mobile phone, three-quarters can access the internet from it and they send, on average, 60 text messages a day. Teenagers spent an average seven-and-a-half hours a day using electronic media, researchers said, 'The Times' reported.
"With some notable exceptions, most online behaviours and threats to wellbeing are mirrored in the offline world. Offline factors predict negative online experiences and effects," researchers said.
"The effects of mobile technologies are not uniform benefits appear to be conferred for some adolescents, eg, skill building among shy adolescents, whereas risk is exacerbated among others, eg, worsening existing mental health problems," researchers said. The study did acknowledge the negative effect of mobile phones on quantity and quality of sleep, and said they could provide new opportunities for bullying.
The study also suggested that teenagers who multitasked with a variety of gadgets showed a higher likelihood of missing classes, spending less time studying and scoring lower grades. The study will be published in the Association for Psychological Science.