Amy Orben: ‘To talk about smartphones affecting the brain is a slippery slope’

The psychologist talks about the widespread fear that smartphones are harmful to our wellbeing – and the difficulty of proving it Amy Orben is a research fellow at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge. She works in the field of experimental psychology and her speciality is analysing large-scale datasets to determine how social media and the use of digital technology affect the wellbeing of teenagers. Her latest paper , co-written with Prof Andrew Przybylski , looks at teenage sleep and technology engagement. In recent years there has been a great deal of speculation about the possible harmful effects of digital technology, particularly smartphones, on mental health, the ability to concentrate, and sleep patterns. Is there any sound evidence to support these concerns? In relation to how much societal debate and coverage these questions get, there is very little evidence for these concerns, and even less high-quality, robust and transparent evidence. I think that lack of