" It may be time for adults to stop arguing over whether smartphones and social media are good or bad for teens' mental health and start figuring out ways to best support them in both their offline and online lives," said Candice Odgers, professor of psychological science at the University of California.
"Contrary to the common belief that smartphones and social media are damaging adolescents' mental health, we don't see much support for the idea that time spent on phones and online is associated with increased risk for mental health problems," co-author Michaeline Jensen said.
For the study, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 youth and then intensively tracked a subsample of nearly 400 teens on their smartphones multiple times a day for two weeks.
Participants in the study were between the age of 10 and 15.
The researchers collected reports of mental health symptoms from the adolescents three times a day and they also reported on their daily technology usage each night.
They asked whether youth who engaged more with digital technologies were more likely to experience later mental health symptoms and whether days that adolescents spent more time using digital technology for a wide range of purposes were also days when mental health problems were more common.
In both these cases, increased digital technology use was not related to worsening mental health.
Teens who reported sending more text messages over the study period actually reported feeling better (less depressed) than teens who were less frequent texters.