One of the largest research studies done to date reveals how screen time affects adolescents and school-aged children. The research focuses on people who spend more time in front of screens and the results suggest that kids are marginally more likely to have attention problems, disrupted sleep, or poorer grades, and are not more likely to suffer from melancholy or anxiety.
Some surveys conducted by experts previously had shown that higher screen time among kids leads to different types of damages to them physically and mentally.
How Digital Screens Are Not Hurting But Helping Kids
However, this new survey has shown the other side of this usage which is beneficial to kids as it helps kids to a great extent. However, there is no denial of the fact that higher usage of such digital devices affects their physical activities and hence the same must be taken care of also.
The study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE on Sept. 8, also found a possible benefit of the much-maligned devices: Children who spent more time in front of screens had more buddies.
According to lead author Katie Paulich, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, “these findings imply that we should be cautious of screens, but that screen usage is likely not intrinsically damaging to our kids.”
Paulick and colleagues from the Institute for Behavioral Genetics analyzed data from a nationwide sample of 11,800 9 and 10-year-olds, including screen time surveys, parental reports of behavioral difficulties and grades, and mental health questionnaires.
The research reveals that boys spend 45 minutes longer each day on average with screens than girls, peaking at nearly five hours on weekends and four hours on weekdays. Boys and females spent varying amounts of time on screens, with boys spending twice as much time on video games and girls spend more time on social media. (The screen time which was needed to watch online classes and to browse study material is not included in the data collected before the COVID-19 epidemic.)
The study revealed that children who spent more time in front of screens slept worse, had lower grades, and had more ‘externalizing’ behaviors, similar to earlier, smaller studies (things like ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder)
However, compared to other aspects, screen usage had little impact on their lives. Screen time for children has been implicated in several studies in recent years, but some studies show that the detrimental impacts may have been exaggerated, according to senior author John Hewitt of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.
Behavioral results were 2.5 times more affected by a child’s socioeconomic level, for example. It was shown that screen time was only responsible for around 2 percent of the difference in children’s results.
Screen time was linked to several mental health and behavioral issues, although Paulich noted that this, he did not indicate that screen time was the cause of them. But it’s possible that the opposite might be the case.
For example, parents with children who tend to act out angrily or lack attention may be more likely to sit them down with a video game than other parents with similar children. To occupy time while they’re having trouble sleeping, some children may go for a smartphone. Perhaps the sort of screen time is more important than the amount, Paulich speculated.
A previous study, for example, has indicated that playing video games with others helps develop relationships, particularly for guys (who tend to play them more), but binge-watching episodes alone can have detrimental repercussions. We cannot give a solid statement as more investigation in this area n is required.