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Low levels of phone addiction found among students, with negative effects

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-22 07:22

Young Chinese students have relatively low levels of addiction to mobile phones, but the devices still have a significant negative impact on their sleep and memory, according to a recent study.

Around 80 percent of primary and secondary school students do not have mobile phone addiction, which is related to strict restrictions on phone use at schools, the study said.

Moreover, parental intervention also plays a role as most Chinese parents tend to regulate their children's phone use due to intense academic workload and competition, the study said.

The study, based on a survey of 2,298 students aged 6 to 18, found that the average student uses a mobile phone for half an hour to two hours every day, two to five times a week.

Male students are more dependent on mobile phones than female students, but female students are more likely to use their phones before they sleep than male students, according to the study.

The study was published by China Youth Study, a monthly journal run by the Central Committee of Communist Youth League of China.

It also found that high school students are the most addicted to mobile phones, while middle school students play with phones most frequently.

Meanwhile, the more students use mobile phones before they sleep, the longer it takes for them to fall asleep and the lower their sleep quality, which leads to a reduced level of memory, the study said.

As schools and parents take restrictive measures on students' use of mobile phones, most students only have access to their phones before they sleep. However, such high level of phone use before sleep has a negative impact on phone addiction and sleep quality, according to the study.

The use of smartphones has replaced certain memory functions in people's brains, and social media and entertainment on smartphones have taken up lots of students' time and energy, the study said.

Especially as students are used to getting fragmented information online, their memory has also been impacted, which can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, the study added.

In 2021, the Ministry of Education banned all primary and secondary school students in China from bringing mobile phones to schools. If they want to bring mobile phones to schools, their parents need to submit a written application and the students need to hand in their cellphones to teachers for custody during school time, the ministry stipulated.

Yu Yi, father of a primary school student in Changsha, Hunan province, said his daughter is only allowed to play with her mobile phone for a short time over the weekend.

"During school days, she has a smartwatch if she needs to contact us, and I don't think it's necessary for primary school students to use smartphones," he said.

It is very easy for them to become addicted as it is also easy even for adults to spend too much time on their phones, so parental intervention is essential, he said.

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