For quite some time now, many health and tech experts have warned about the possible adverse effects of excessive use of tech gadgets, not to mention spending a long time on them.
Relatively, researchers who recommend caution when it comes to the so-called "digital detoxes" say, overall use of smartphone "is a poor predictor of anxiety, depression or stress."
The study, which Technology, Mind and Behavior published, was led by Lancaster University's Heather Shaw and Kristoffer Geyer, with University of Bath's Dr. Davis Ellis and Dr. Brittany Davidson, and University of Lincoln's Dr. Fenja Ziegler and Alice Smith.
In their research, the study investigators measured the time spent on smartphones, specifically by 199 users of iPhones and "46 Android users for one week."
Participants were asked about their present physical and mental health condition, too, by accomplishing clinical scales that gauge symptoms for depression and anxiety.
Those who participated in the study also completed a scale that measured how difficult they perceived their use of phones to be. Surprisingly, the researchers said the amount of time spent on the mobile phone was not associated with poor mental health.
Screen Time Not a Predictor of Mental Health Problem
According to Shaw, from the Department of Psychology of Lancaster University, based on their study, an individual's everyday smartphone pickups or screen time "did not predict symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress."
In addition, those who went beyond the clinical 'cut off points' for both general anxiety and major depressive illness did not use their mobile phone more compared to those whose score was lower the threshold, Shaw explained.
What the researchers found instead was that mental health was linked to concerns and worries which participants felt about their own use of their smartphone.
The finding was gauged through the participants' scores using a problematic usage scale where they rated statements like "Using my smartphone longer than I intended," and "Having tried time and again to shorten my smartphone use time but failing all the time."
Actual Use of Device and Worries About Technology Not the Same
The lead author also said it is essential to consider the actual use of device distinctly from concerns of people and worries about technology.
This is because Shaw explained, smartphone usage does not show a noteworthy link to mental health, "whereby the latter does."
Past studies have focused on the probable harmful effect of 'screen time,' although the study presents that the attitudes of people or apprehensions are likely to bring these results.
Ellis added, their results contribute to a growing body of research suggesting a reduction of general usage of phone and screen time is not likely to make individuals happier.
Rather than promoting the benefits of digital detox, the study investigators suggested, people would benefit from measures to deal with their worries and fears that have developed and grown around the time they spent while using their mobile phones.