Data from more than 17,000 teenagers show little evidence of a relationship between screen time and well-being1 in adolescents.
The study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that spending time online, gaming, or watching TV, especially before bedtime, can damage young people's mental health.
"Implementing2 best practice statistical3 and methodological techniques we found little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital-screen engagement and adolescent well-being," said Amy Orben, a Researcher at the Oxford4 Internet Institute (OII) and College Lecturer at the Queen's College, University of Oxford.
"While psychological science can be a powerful tool for understanding the link between screen use and adolescent well-being, it still routinely fails to supply stakeholders and the public with high-quality, transparent5, and objective investigations6 into growing concerns about digital technologies."
"Analyzing7 three different datasets, which include improved measurements of screen time, we found little clear-cut evidence that screen time decreases adolescent well-being, even if the use of digital technology occurs directly before bedtime," said Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the OII and coauthor on the study.
The research found that adolescents' total screen time per day had little impact on their mental health, both on weekends and weekdays.
It also found that the use of digital screens 2 hours, 1 hour, or 30 minutes before bedtime didn't have clear associations with decreases in adolescent well-being, even though this is often taken as a fact by media reports and public debates.
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