How Much Screen-time is Too Much?

April 24, 2019 | 05:56
How Much Screen-time is Too Much?
How Much Screen-time is Too Much?
Astonishingly enough, Oxford University scientists found no relevant evidence for a connection between so-called screen time and well-being among adolescents.

A new study based on data from more than 17,000 adolescents sheds serious doubt on the commonly held belief that too much time spent looking at screens, playing video games or watching TV (especially at bedtime) can have a serious negative impact on the mental health of adolescents.

Statistics

The detection of the psychological effects of modern technology is not an easy task and accordingly there are more 'opinions' on this subject than are backed up on solid evidence. When analyzing three different sets of data — which used a more accurate methodology to access actual screen-time (rather than relying on self-declared estimates). There was little evidence of any correlation between adolescent mental health and the amount of time spent gazing at their screens, even when the devices were in use immediately before bedtime.
Research found that daily screen time had little impact on adolescent mental health. This applies to both the weekend and weekdays. Also the time of use seems irrelevant: Whether the devices were used two hours, one hour or 30 minutes before going to bed made no clear difference. This is surprising when most parents and educational institutions take it as a given that too much screen-time is bad and some even recommend maximum ‘safe’ viewing duration.

Methodology

In contrast to other studies, the Oxford study analyzed data from Ireland (5,363 individuals), the US (709 individuals) and the UK (11,884 individuals) using a more rigorous methodology to determine the daily screen time. This is an important feature of the report because many similar studies investigating the effects of digital technologies and adolescents rely on relatively unreliable self-reporting, which is problematic because recent work has shown that only a third of respondents accurately estimate exactly how much time they spend online.

Conclusions

A statistical analysis of the results indicated that the use of these devices has an influence on adolescent mental wellbeing of just 0.4% at most. The results of the study were published earlier this year in Nature Human Behaviour. It was also reported that adolescents who needed to wear spectacles suffered more of a negative influence on their wellbeing than any effects attributable to screen-time.
 
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