(Good Morning Arizona) -- For the first time, a new study shows a direct link between cell phone use and mental health issues in teenagers. According to the journal "Child Development," using cell phones at night makes teens more likely to battle depression and anxiety. It can also lower their self-esteem.

[WATCH: How parents can help their kids]

Katey McPherson, an expert on the social-emotional needs and wellness of students, as well as youth mental health, isn't surprised by the study. She says it's not just phones causing anxiety and depression in teens. Other anxiety triggers for teens include academics, friendships, family discord, fear of school shootings, and financial worries. The use of cell phones, especially before bed, can make that anxiety worse, McPherson says.

Sleep is crucial for teenagers; experts say kids between 9 and 18 years old need 8 to 12 hours per night. McPherson says screen time before bed can hurt the quality of sleep teens get. Overscheduling can be an issue, too, which is why she suggests parents help teens find balance with their academics and activities.

McPherson believes phones shouldn't be allowed in bedrooms and suggests a central charging station for the family's phones that keeps ALL devices out of reach for teens during the overnight hours.

Most importantly, McPherson says phones should not become an obstruction between parent and child. "It's 2020. Social media is here. It's an amazing tool with a light side and a dark side," she explains. "If you are allowing it, we must mentor and train them to use it for good, for their cause and future. We are losing the battle by nagging and not understanding their virtual world."

McPherson is the Arizona ambassador for the Bark app, which helps parents monitor how their children are using social media. The promo code N6XCWWF can be used for 20% off.

 

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