Problem technology use, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among adolescents: The moderating role of sex

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Authors: Fatima Mougharbel, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, Hayley A Hamilton, Ian Colman, Scott T Leatherdale, and Gary S Goldfield
Page Range: 195-207
Published in: International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health, 16#3 (2023)
ISSN: 1939-5930

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

This study examined the association between problematic technology use (PTU) and suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among adolescents and explored whether sex moderates these associations. Data used for this study were from a representative sample of middle and high school students in Ontario, Canada. Analyses included 4,390 students derived from the 2019 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. Our results showed that 19% of adolescents experienced symptoms of moderate-to-serious PTU, 16.8% had suicidal ideation, and 4.1% had suicide attempt. Females reported higher symptoms of moderate-to-serious PTU than males and reported a higher prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. The association of PTU with suicidal ideation and suicide attempt was modified by sex. Having moderate-to-serious symptoms of PTU was associated with higher odds of suicidal ideation among males than females (OR = 3.72, 95% CI = 2.53–5.49 vs OR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.35-2.26, respectively). Also, having moderate-to-serious symptoms of PTU was associated with higher odds of suicide attempt among males than females (OR = 6.25, 95% CI = 2.87-13.60 vs OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.28-3.23, respectively). In conclusion, PTU is a modifiable risk factor associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation and attempt among adolescents, with male adolescents being the most vulnerable. Further research is warranted to explore this association in more depth and to fully understand the role of sex and other potential moderators on the relationship between problem technology use and suicidality among adolescents.

Keywords: Problematic technology use, screen time, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, mental health, sex, adolescents

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