With the explosion of digital entertainment options over the past few decades and more recent restrictions on outdoor and in-person social activities, parents may fear that excessive engagement with digital technology could have long-term effects. on the mental health of their children.
A new study published in the journal Clinical psychological science, however, found little evidence of an increased association between adolescent technological engagement and mental health issues over the past 30 years. The data does not consistently support the suggestion that the technologies that concern us most (e.g. smartphones) are becoming increasingly harmful.
The new study, which included 430,000 British and American teens, looked at links between social media use and depression, emotional issues, and conduct issues. He also looked at associations between television viewing and suicidality, depression, emotional issues, and conduct issues. Finally, the study explored the association between the use of digital devices and suicidality.
Of the eight associations examined in this research, only three showed changes over time. The use of social media and television have become less strongly associated with depression. In contrast, the association of social media with emotional issues has increased, albeit slightly. The study found no consistent changes in associations of technological engagement with problems with conduct or suicidality.
“If we are to understand the relationship between technology and well-being today, we must first go back and look at the historical data – as far back as when parents were worried too much television would give their children the best. square eyes – for to highlight the contemporary concerns we have regarding new technologies, ”said Matti Vuorre, postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and lead author of the article.
The study also highlighted key factors that prevent scientists from conclusively determining how the use of technology relates to mental health.
“As more and more data accumulates on the use of emerging technologies by adolescents, our knowledge of them and their effects on mental health will become more precise,” said Andy Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute and lead author of the study. “It is therefore too early to draw firm conclusions about the growing or declining associations between social media and adolescent mental health, and it is certainly far too early to develop any policy or regulation on this basis.”
“We need more transparent and credible collaborations between scientists and tech companies to unlock the answers. The data exists within the tech industry; scientists just need to be able to access it for a neutral and independent investigation,” said Przybylski.
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