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SURVEY: Majority of American teenagers feel happy and peaceful without smartphones

  A recent Pew Research Center survey reveals that a majority of American teenagers find happiness and peace  when they are not tethered to ...

 A recent Pew Research Center survey reveals that a majority of American teenagers find happiness and peace when they are not tethered to their smartphones.

The study, conducted among 1,453 teenagers ages 13 to 17, found that 74 percent of respondents say they feel happy when they have no smartphones on hand, while 72 percent say they feel peaceful when disconnected from their devices.

According to the Pew Research Center data, 95 percent of teens either own a smartphone or have access to one, with most using the internet daily. In other words, the majority of American teenagers have already built their connections with their smartphones – thanks to the popularity of social media platforms and mobile games. 

The survey also reveals the prevalence of negative emotions associated with smartphone separation. For instance, a notable 44 percent of teens say they feel anxious when they are without their phones, while 40 percent say they feel upset and 30 percent say they feel lonely.

Several studies claim that these negative emotions are associated with problematic smartphone use.

A recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior has found that problematic smartphone use can cause cognitive impairments, poor sleep quality and depression. The study authors noted that smartphone use only becomes problematic when it starts to interfere with daily life.

Meanwhile, in an article published in the EXCLI Journal, Sehar Shoukat from the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology explained that whenever a habit, such as checking or being active on social media, turns into an obligation, it quickly becomes an addiction. 

Shoukat further explained that people who are "mobile addicted" are unable to cut back on their cell phone usage, often use their phones as a solution to boredom, feel anxious when separated from smartphones and might even get depressed. Basically, too much smartphone use can really stress out teenagers and affect how they feel and behave.

The study also shows that digital disengagement can bring a sense of relief and contentment and, at the same time, offer tranquility and mental relaxation among teenagers.

UNESCO does not support "smartphone use justification" among teenagers

Despite the positive sentiments associated with going phone-free, the study reveals that the majority of teens have not curbed their phone or social media usage. Instead, they try to justify the benefits of having a smartphone for people their age.

For instance, approximately 70 percent of respondents believe that smartphones provide more benefits than harm for people their age, while 30 percent hold the opposite view. Similarly, 69 percent of respondents say that smartphones make it easier to pursue hobbies and interests, while 65 percent say it helps them to be creative and 45 percent believe these devices enhance academic performance.

However, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there is significant evidence that excessive smartphone use in school-age children is linked to reduced educational performance and that higher levels of screen time have had negative effects on the emotional stability of children.

"The digital revolution holds immeasurable potential but just as warnings have been voiced for how it should be regulated in society, similar attention must be paid to the way it is used in education," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. "Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the well-being of students and teachers, not to their detriment. Keep the needs of the learner first and support teachers. Online connections are no substitute for human interaction."

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