Prevalence of perceived stress symptoms of depression and sleep disturbances in relation to information and communication technology ICT use among young adults an explorative prospective study (2007)

Comments; From 2007. High levels of cell phone and Internet correlates with depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Sara Thomée  Mats Eklöf, Ewa Gustafsson, Ralph Nilsson, Mats Hagberg

Volume 23, Issue 3, May 2007, Pages 1300–1321

Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy and University Hospital, Box 414, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden


The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate whether high quantity of information and communication technology (ICT) use is a risk factor for developing psychological symptoms among young ICT users. A cohort of college students responded to a questionnaire at baseline and at 1-year follow-up (n = 1127). Exposure variables, such as different types of ICT use, and effect variables, such as perceived stress, symptoms of depression and sleep disturbances, were assessed. Prevalence ratios were computed, based on symptom-free subjects at baseline and prevalence of symptoms at follow-up.

For women, high combined use of computer and mobile phone at baseline was associated with increased risk of reporting prolonged stress and symptoms of depression at follow-up, and number of short message service (SMS) messages per day was associated with prolonged stress. Also online chatting was associated with prolonged stress, and e-mailing and online chatting were associated with symptoms of depression, while Internet surfing increased the risk of developing sleep disturbances. For men, number of mobile phone calls and SMS messages per day were associated with sleep disturbances. SMS use was also associated with symptoms of depression.

The findings suggest that ICT may have an impact on psychological health, although causal mechanisms are unclear.