Stressed teenagers rely on technology to seek emotional support


Teenagers these days are often surrounded by technology and during the the pandemic they got hooked to it for receiving education. However, a new study has found that it is not only for education but even for stress management that teenagers rely on technology. Published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal earlier this month, the study was led by professors of Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

As a part of How Do You Feel project, researchers conducted in-the-moment research with adolescents living in low socio-economic areas, and lent them new iPhones to report on their technology use, cause of stress, and changes in emotions five times for one week.

Their observations showed that teenagers who faced daily stressors engaged in emotional support seeking, self-distraction or information seeking online activity in a moderate capacity, experienced better short-term stress relief. The study also found that the subjects also showed smaller dips in happiness and smaller surges in emotions like sadness, worry and jealousy in the hours after a stressor when they used online coping mechanisms for their stress relief.

In a statement, lead author of the study Kathryn Modecki said that since adolescents in disadvantaged settings have fewer local supports, their study sought to find out whether online engagement helped reduce their stress.

Modecki, Associate Professor at Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, said the research also wanted to apply Goldilocks Hypothesis in which moderate health-seeking behaviours that are said to be beneficial turn its extreme use or non-use ineffective.

Researchers found that moderate use of online self-distraction, when placed against high or no distraction, resulted in reduced worry, jealousy and anger; while moderate amounts of online information-seeking protected teenagers against dips in sadness.

Modecki said that the online space is an unequalled resource for adolescents to seek support and information about what is troubling them as well as short-term distraction. She further mentioned that teenagers benefit from the online space when managing stressors encountered in everyday life. The Internet helps them discover “accurate information, connect with support systems and take a break from daily hassles,” said Modecki.


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