To Your Health
June, 2021 (Vol. 15, Issue 06)
The Sad State of Screen Time
By Editorial Staff
There's been considerable speculation about whether screen time can negatively impact health, particularly in our children and particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown. But here's the research to support what we've all probably feared for years: too much can be a problem.
Unfortunately, it can increase the risk of suffering from another side effect of the pandemic: depression.
Researchers evaluated screen time and depressive symptoms among nearly 4,000 adolescents (average age: 12.7 years), with independent evaluation of specific types of screen time: social media, television, video gaming, and computer use. With every extra hour spent using social media or watching television, adolescents were more likely to express depressive symptoms. Computer time did not appear to correlate with depressive symptoms – perhaps because computer use may involve more exposure to academic / educational content (while social media and television generally do not). Study findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics, a journal of the American Medical Association.
As parents, it's easy to assume screen time is an inescapable reality in today's world. It's a constant, to be sure, but that doesn't mean you can't set clear boundaries for your children related to age, behavior and in general. It's just as important to talk to your kids about research (such as this study) that links excessive screen time, particularly involving social media and television, with depression; and look for signs of either / both before they spiral out of control.