SMARTPHONE APPS MAY HELP DETECT A TEEN’S DEPRESSION
Smartphone apps could monitor teen psyches
We are tracking the equivalent of a heartbeat for the human brain.” Dr. Alex Leow, an app developer and associate professor of psychiatry and bioengineering at the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus
Rising suicide rates and depression in U.S. teens and young adults have prompted researchers to ask a provocative question: Could the same devices that some people blame for contributing to tech-age angst also be used to detect it?
The idea has sparked a race to develop apps that warn of impending mental health crises. Call it smartphone psychiatry or child psychology 2.0.
Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being.
Changes in typing speed, voice tone, word choice and how often kids stay home could signal trouble, according to preliminary studies.
Laurel Foster is one of the teen participants in Stanford University research testing whether smartphones can be used to help detect depression and potential self-harm.
Laurel Foster looks at Instagram in San Francisco in November. Developers say as teens scroll through some apps, they leave digital footprints that may offer clues about their psyches.