Nearly One In Five Young Ontario Adults Shows Problematic Use Of Electronic Devices, New CAMH Survey Finds

CAMH Monitor survey also shows many Ontario adults report texting and driving, and increasing mental distress days

A Report from the Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Posted December 8th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

(A Foreword Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper – I sincerely hope that people – particularly younger people who are more prone to be wired into online electronic devices so much of the time – read this report, if they haven’t already heard the very good CBC radio and television reports since its release this December 7th. 2016.


Call me out of step with the times, an old, technically challenged fart or whatever, but it is disturbing to watch so many people so totally immersed in whatever they are texting, tweeting, firing off to so-called “friends” on Facebook, or watching or playing on a hand-held screen that they are almost totally oblivious to what is going on in the real, organic community around them.

I live on a neighbourhood street with a sidewalk in front of my home where I have given up on saying ‘Hi’ to people walking by while I am out in the front or passing them on the same walkway because the vast majority of them either can’t or don’t want to hear you because, with blank look on their faces, they are plugged into these electronic devices. It’s like a zombie apocalypse or the night of the body snatchers.

And when I see the tweets and Facebook messages so many send me through the course of my work on Niagara At Large, most of them amount to bumper sticker word bites that show little or no respect for the depth or complexity of the issues they are pretending to communicate about.

No wonder politicians like Donald Trump are doing so well? Not too hard in a world where you can get away with summing up an issue as complicated as climate change or the Syrian refugee crisis in a 25-word tweet.

Then there are those who insist on texting and tweeting and playing Pokémon Go and other digital games while driving a car or truck on our roads. It’s like going out on the road waving a loaded gun and given the alarming number of people maimed and killed in traffic collisions due to fooling with electronic devices while driving, anyone caught should be prosecuted under the criminal code and face having their driver’s license revoked for life – FULL STOP!

The report released this December 7th by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and highlighted below, should ring alarm bells for anyone still capable of making it past a dozen or two words of text to read it. It should become a mandatory part of the curriculum in every school across North America.)

Toronto, Ontario – As many as 19 per cent of Ontario adults aged 18 to 29 experience moderate to severe problematic use of electronic devices, which includes smartphones and tablets as well as computers and video game consoles, according to the latest CAMH Monitor survey. It’s the first time the ongoing survey has measured the impact of our increasing reliance on electronic devices.

As dangerous as it now has been proven to be, many just can't seem to give digital devices up while driving

As dangerous as it now has been proven to be, many just can’t seem to give digital devices up while driving

“Today’s young adults entered their adolescent or adult years with a wide range of social media, apps, videos and other information and entertainment available to them 24/7,” says Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and co-principal investigator of the CAMH Monitor.

Although problematic use was most prevalent among young adults, it affected all ages. Overall, seven per cent of all Ontario adults – representing an estimated 716,100 people – experienced moderate to severe problematic use, defined as experiencing three or more out of six symptoms related to problematic use.

“It’s clear that, for most of us, our use of electronic devices has skyrocketed over the past five to 10 years, which is why it’s important to study if this use can be problematic,” says Dr. Nigel Turner, Scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and an expert in gambling and behavioural addictions.

“While our understanding of problematic use is evolving, we know that some people do end up harming their career or educational opportunities by excessive use.”

These results from the 2015 CAMH Monitor are based on responses from 3,007 adults aged 18 and older across the province. The survey asked about personal device use, other than for work or school. Questions about problematic use asked whether individuals or their family members believed they had a problem, if they tried to cut back on their use, if they experienced anxiety that could only be relieved by using electronic devices, or if they missed school, work or important social activities because of device use, for example.

“Research has shown that high use of electronic devices, as well as social media, are linked to problems with mental health, including increased psychological distress and poorer self-rated mental health,” says Dr. Hamilton. “Our new findings underscore the need for each of us to define healthy limits, and to monitor our use of electronic devices before it becomes a problem.”

Rising Risks On The Road

A high number of drivers reported texting while driving, another new question on this year’s survey. More than one in three drivers – 37 per cent – confirmed texting while driving at least once in the past year, and 11 per cent of drivers had texted while driving 30 or more times in the past year.

That last text message never got sent.

That last text message never got sent.

“An estimated 3.3 million adult drivers in Ontario are involved in this hazardous behaviour on the road,” says Dr. Robert Mann, Senior Scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and co-principal investigator of the survey. “The province’s stronger penalties for distracted driving came into effect in the fall of 2015, so we don’t yet know the effects of these penalties – we’ll be watching this closely in future years.”

Who We Are –

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

For more information on and from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health click on

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


One response to “Nearly One In Five Young Ontario Adults Shows Problematic Use Of Electronic Devices, New CAMH Survey Finds

  1. Don’t have an I-phone. Don’t know how to text. Not on Facebook. Not on Twitter. Have a cell phone but not sure where it is. Same cell number since 1993 and don’t have a clue what it is. I don’t NEED or WANT to be in touch every second of the day. It is for emergencies or travel reservations. My company has given me a free year twice since I didn’t use it. I check my mail at home because I have friends abroad. If I go away, the gone fishin’ sign comes out. Leave me alone.

    Devices have their place but not while driving. A kid about 18 passed me going from Guelph to Hamilton on #6, a very busy, undivided 4 lane highway, texting and steering with his knees at @ 120km/hr. Every time I look at a car beside me people are looking down. If there’s a slow poke holding up traffic – texting. Grow up people, you’re NOT that important but I hope I am and don’t want you killing me.

    No wonder people can’t communicate any more and, when they do, they usually do so online with horrendous grammar and vulgarity. Non face to face communication lets people be ignorant and rude because there are no consequences and it often carries over to real conversations. It becomes an obsession and people do have withdrawal.

    If someone kills another person due to texting it’s vehicular homicide. 25 years without parole. If caught texting while driving licence gone for a year. Texting is causing too many deaths and destroying personal and meaningful communications.


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