Screentime has little effect on teenagers’ wellbeing, says study

Alex Hern in The Guardian on a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science. It is an important data point in the growing debate about whether excessive screen time can damage the mental health of young people.

The research, based on analysis of the screen use of more than 17,000 teenagers across Ireland, the US and the UK, found use of screens before bedtime was completely unrelated to psychological wellbeing, and screen time more generally had a “minuscule” effect on wellbeing in teenagers when compared with other activities in an adolescent’s life.

Because technologies are embedded in our social and professional lives, research concerning digital screen use and its effects on adolescent wellbeing is under increasing scrutiny.

Amy Orben, lead researcher on the paper

The study utilized “time-use diaries and self-reported measures” to come up with a more accurate record of how much time participants spend using digital technologies.

The research was welcomed by others in the field,

The controversy around screen use and adolescent wellbeing has always suffered from an excess of opinion relative to data, and this paper helps to correct this imbalance.

The analysis is robust and suggests an overall population effect too small to warrant consideration as a public health problem. They also question the widely held belief that screens before bedtime are especially bad for mental health.

Dr. Max Davie, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

As I’ve suggested in other posts, more research and dialogue is still needed.

As a frontline clinician, I regularly see young people who have deliberately hurt themselves after discussing self-harm techniques on social media. Urgent research is needed to explore the complex relationship between online content and young people, with particular attention given to the most vulnerable.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the Child and Adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists

SOURCE: The Guardian

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About the author

Ian O'Byrne

Dr. W. Ian O’Byrne is a educator, researcher, & speaker. His work centers on teaching, learning, and technology. He investigates the literacy practices of individuals as they read, write, and communicate in online & hybrid spaces.

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