Increased time spent in front of a screen -- in the form of computers, cell phones and tablets -- might have contributed to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicide-related behaviors and thoughts in American young people, especially girls, according to a new study by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean Twenge.
The findings point to the need for parents to monitor how much time their children are spending in front of media screens.
"These increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming," Twenge said.
Twenge, along with SDSU graduate student Gabrielle Martin and colleagues Thomas Joiner and Megan Rogers at Florida State University, looked at questionnaire data from more than 500,000 U.S. teens found in two anonymous, nationally representative surveys that have been conducted since 1991.
They also looked at data suicide statistics kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They found that the suicide rate for girls aged 13-18 increased by 65 percent between 2010 and 2015, and the number of girls experiencing so-called suicide-related outcomes--feeling hopeless, thinking about suicide, planning for suicide or attempting suicide -- rose by 12 percent.