Teens who spend five or more hours online showed a 71 percent increase in depression or suicidal ideation-which are suicide risk factors-than teens who limited themselves to one hour online per day, according to one of the study's authors, San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge.
Scientists found the link between depression and time spent in front of TVs, tablets and phones was especially strong among teenage girls.
Twenge also said that teens who spent time on "new media", such as social media and smartphones, had more mental health concerns than those who hung out with friends, worked on homework, stayed physically active, or went to religious services.
They found that the suicide rates for girls aged between 13 and 18 increased by 65% between 2010 and 2015, while the number of girls experiencing so-called suicide-related outcomes - feeling hopeless, thinking about suicide or attempting suicide - rose by 12%.
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"Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously".
Researchers compared the data with a pair of anonymous surveys conducted since 1991.
The number of teen girls reporting symptoms of severe depression increased by 58 per cent.
"When I first saw these sudden increases in mental health issues, I wasn't sure what was causing them".
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Today's children and teenagers are increasingly spend more time on screens and less time on other activities which is proving to be disastrous for mental health.
"That was by far the largest change in their lives during this five-year period, and it's not a good formula for mental health". Only 28 percent of those who spent less than hour looking at screens reported a suicide-related outcome.
"When the teens were asked about their leisure time activities, a lot of them increasingly spent more time with screens and less time on other activities".
"But three other studies show that is unlikely (at least, when viewed through social media use)".
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Researchers published their findings this week in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.