A new Swiss study suggests teens with smartphones are more apt to use digital media, and have an increased risk of sleep problems and depressive symptoms.

Due to wireless Internet connections and cheap flat rates, teenagers with smartphones are now able to spend more time online and communicate with their peers for less money.

Researchers believe these factors have changed teenagers digital media use pattern profoundly.

In the study, University of Basel researchers found that teenagers who own smartphones spend more time online day and night, which may affect their sleep.

Investigators followed more than 300 students between the ages 12 to 17 to determine differences in digital media use between teenagers with smartphones and their peers with conventional mobile phones. The study took place in northwestern Switzerland.

The results show that during weekdays teenagers with smartphones spent more time on the internet than their peers with conventional mobile phones; on average two hours compared to one hour.

In addition, they wrote more text messages daily; on average 85 messages compared to seven messages.

A particularly noticeable difference was found for the time when the teenagers were in their beds at night: Only 17 percent of smartphone owners switched their devices off or put them on silent during the night compared to 47 percent of the teenagers with conventional mobile phones.

Moreover, teenagers with smartphones continued to watch videos, be online, and text with friends more often during the night than their counterparts with conventional mobile phones.

Most importantly, teenagers who used digital media at night had an increased risk for poor sleep and depressive symptoms.

As a result of the findings, experts recommend that teenagers who suffer from sleep disorders or severe daytime tiredness to switch their digital media devices off at least one hour before bedtime.

Study findings have been published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Source: University of Basel/EurekAlert

Teen with smartphone photo available from Shutterstock