Study: Yes, teens look at screens constantly but that’s actually OK

Everybody sees teenagers on their phones and laptops and gaming all the time, and it looks scary. It’s a completely fair assumption that it’s doing something to their brains. But new research says that the effects of all that texting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting on teenagers’ well-being are “miniscule.”

“Implementing best practice statistical and methodological techniques we found little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital-screen engagement and adolescent wellbeing,” said Amy Orben, a Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and a lecturer at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford, in a release.

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In other words, the kids are all right.

Teenage mental health can withstand screen time

A study from researchers at Oxford University, published in the journal Psychological Science, analyzed data from 17,000 young people from the UK, Ireland, and the U.S.

It was discovered that it didn’t matter how many hours per day the teenagers used screens – the impact on their mental health was still minimal. It was also found that using screens two hours, one hour, or 30 minutes before bedtime didn’t have a clear link with a decrease in wellbeing – although it is generally taken as fact that this is unhealthy for teenagers. (It should be noted, however, that using screens emitting blue light before bedtime does disrupt your sleep).

One feature unique to the study was that the rigor of the methods used to accurately track just how much time the teenagers spent online; researchers included both self-reported measures and time-use diaries. Previous similar studies, Orben has said, have been built on less reliable data about screen-time use.

“Analyzing three different datasets, which include improved measurements of screen time, we found little clear-cut evidence that screen time decreases adolescent wellbeing, even if the use of digital technology occurs directly before bedtime,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute and co-author on the study.

Well, it looks like teenagers get a free pass on this one.

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