Smartphones Could Be Replacing Drugs for Teenagers

You may have heard a little (uhhh, a lot) about the upcoming iPhone8 (or iPhone X or iPhone Edition, according to some reports) and all the new features it may have to offer when it's expected to drop this September. And while there may be more emoji keyboards (thanks, Chanel) to download than your fingers can keep up with, new research shows that spending time on your smartphone may not be such a bad thing after all — especially as it relates to your health.

Although we've told you that iPhones and digital devices can have a negative effect on your body — for example, they can mess with your posture or the music you're listening to on your earbuds can ruin your hearing — it turns out that the same unhealthy digital device may be in part responsible for the overall decline in drug use among teenagers, according to The New York Times.

In an annual study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Monitoring Abuse," director Dr. Nora Volkow and team found that past-year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana was at the lowest level in the 40-year history of the project for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. What's more, marijuana use declined despite shifting attitudes towards it — positive ones, at that, with use down across all demographics, something Volkow made sure to highlight.

And while further research needs to be done to figure out exactly why there's been a uniform decline in drug use for teens across the country, Volkow and company do have a few theories as to what's going on. Specifically, it's been theorized that the rise of smartphones could quite possibly have a direct relationship to the drop in drug use.

[Cell phones are essentially] “an alternative reinforcer” to drugs, Volkow told The Times, adding that “teens can get literally high when playing these games.” In other words: There's no reason to light up.

So next time you're at a party and passing on that drink, joint, or something far worse, don't feel bad about looking down at your phone — playing a quick game of Words With Friends could be exactly what you need to stay sober and on track.