Increased internet use has been linked to higher anxiety in teens.
This may come as no surprise to parents of teens who like to spend a little too much time online.
But in case you needed some science to back up your fears, a recent study published in BMC Public Health has done just that.
Researchers examined the prevalence of anxiety and internet addiction among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam.
And what they found is alarming.
Increased internet use linked to higher anxiety in teens
Overall, 5,315 students aged 11–17 were included.
Almost 55% of students indicated they could not live without the internet and smart devices, and 58% used the internet and smart devices as coping mechanisms for stress and unwanted events.
More than 7% of participants had severe anxiety, 22.8% had moderate levels, and the remainder had minimum or mild levels of anxiety.
The prevalence of high anxiety levels increased significantly with an increase in time spent online.
Females were more likely to experience high levels of anxiety than males.
Students who spent four to eight hours online every day had significantly greater odds of having high anxiety levels than those who spent less than four hours.
The teenage years' challenges
Adolescence is a challenging time characterized by significant emotional, physical, social, and cognitive changes.
Coupled with the addictive nature of the internet, it can have profound affects and lead teens to neglect responsibilities and lose interest in other activities.
Social isolation measures imposed during the pandemic did increase internet usage and addiction risk.
Additionally, teens struggling with internet addiction have greater odds of experiencing mental health issues.
The danger is that excess internet use also limits real-life social interactions.
Overall, approximately a third of the sample showed at least three positive indicators of internet addiction, and over a quarter spent more than eight hours online every day.
The odds of having high levels of anxiety increased with the time spent online and the number of positive indicators of addiction.
Researches say the findings highlight the need to implement school and family-level measures to control internet and smart device use among teens.