As children and adolescents spend more and more of their leisure time with screens, including smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles and televisions, concerns grow about the effect screen time has on their psychological well-being.
The concept of psychological well-being is based on the idea that a person has emotional stability, positive interpersonal relationships, self-control and a general indication of successful progress through life. Most mental health problems develop by adolescence, many of which are caused by factors that cannot be influenced by intervention, for example genetics or poverty.
It is imperative that the causes, which can be affected by intervention, be identified and influenced which helps reduce or prevent the development of mental health issues.
For example, how children and adolescents spend their leisure time is strongly amenable to change. Parents can control how much time their children spend online by using Internet Parental Controls such as ikydz. Schools have been using internet safety controls to protect kids for years, it is time parents do the same.
Monitor and reduce your child's screen time with ikydz
Previously, associations between screen time and poor health outcomes such as obesity and lack of exercise have been well-documented. However, research exploring associations between screen time and more psychological aspects of well-being among children and adolescents has been inconsistent.
The UK Independent published an article based on a very comprehensive study conducted by Professor Jean M. Twenge, of San Diego State University, and published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports. It examined the effects of screen time on well-being in more than 40,000 children aged 2 to 17 in the US. The data was provided by their parents for a nationwide health survey.
2-5 year olds, that were frequent screen users, were twice as likely to lose their temper often and 46% more likely not to be able to calm down
It showed that screen-users who spend a little time on their devices generally do not differ much in wellbeing from non-screen users. However, users who spend more than one hour per day with their screens, show significantly lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractability, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being difficult to care for, an inability to finish tasks and are twice as likely to have an anxiety or depression diagnosis.
This study found that those aged 14 to 17 are at a higher risk of developing a lower sense of well-being. Most teenagers in this age group would have access to smartphones and therefore spend more time on social media or online gaming so it is no surprise that they are at increased risk of lower mental health.
However, correlations in younger children and toddlers were also found. The study found that toddlers who frequently used screens were twice as likely to lose their temper.
It also claimed that nine per cent of those aged 11 to 13 who spent an hour a day on screens were not curious in learning new things, a figure which rose to 22.6 per cent for those whose screen time was seven hours a day or more.
The National Institute of Health claims that young people spend an average of five to seven hours on screens in their spare time. It is unsettling to think of the potential mental state of the generations to come.