Methods: Data were drawn from the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey (KCYPS). The KCYPS is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of children’ and youth’s diverse developmental aspects using a nationally representative sample in Korea. The KCYPS has been conducted annually since 2010. The sample of the present study is 1,532 high-school seniors from the 6th panel data of the KCYPS. To examine the mediating effect of smartphone dependency on the relationship between attention deficit and depression of adolescents in Korea, a path analysis with robust maximum likelihood estimation was conducted using Mplus.
Results: After controlling for covariates (i.e., gender, parent’s education, income), attention deficit was likely to increase the level of depression among adolescents (b=.358 [.027], p<.001). Also, attention deficit tended to increase the level of smartphone dependency (b=.358 [.029], p<.001), which in turn, increase depression among adolescents (b=.182 [.026], p<.001). In other words, we found a direct effect and an indirect effect of attention deficit through smartphone dependency on depression among adolescents.
Conclusions and Implications: Study findings suggest that attention deficit is associated with depression among adolescents, especially through smartphone dependency. Given that depression is directly related to academic performance and its effects on mental health among adolescents, social work practitioners should make an effort to prevent attention deficit by developing innovative educational programs. Furthermore, social work practitioners should be aware of the effect of smartphone dependency on depression, and provide preventive and treatment services for adolescents with excessive smartphone usage.