A recent study further supports the idea that too much screen time could be detrimental for children and teens. The study showed that too much gaming, television, and screen time on smartphones is linked to higher levels of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. These associations were noted in children as young as 2 years.
The report acknowledges that even after a single hour of screen time daily, children and adolescents may begin to loss curiosity, have less self-control, show less emotional stability, and have a harder time focusing on tasks.
Study specifically looked at the links between screen time and depression and anxiety
The study was specifically looking at the links between screen time and depression and anxiety. These mental health conditions have not been specifically looked at relative to screen time. Though there is a growing amount of research with suggests that the amount of screen time the average use has daily may have adverse effects on overall health and well-being. The National Institute of Health estimates that an average of five to seven hours is spent in front of a screen daily by most youths.
The current study looked at data from over 40,000 children and teens, ages 2 to 17 years
It was seen that adolescents who spend more than seven hours daily in front of a screen were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression than those spending only one hour a day. The links between overall well-being and screen time were more dramatic with adolescents than with younger children.
The highlights of the study:
- Moderate use of screens, at four hours each day, was also associated with lower psychological well-being than use of one hour a day.
- Among preschoolers, high users of screens were twice as likely to often lose their temper and 46 percent more likely to not be able to calm down when excited.
- Among teens aged 14-17, 42.2 percent of those who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish tasks compared with 16.6 percent for those who spent one hour daily and 27.7 percent for those engaged for four hours of screen time.
- About 9 percent of youth aged 11-13 who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things, compared with 13.8 percent who spent four hours on screen and 22.6 percent who spent more than seven hours with screens.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has established screen time limits for young children (ages 2-5 years) of one hour per day. They recommend that this screen time also focus on high-quality programs.
The current study suggests that perhaps similar limits be advocated for school-aged children and adolescents; perhaps two hours per day. Since so many mental health disorders develop in adolescence it is important to isolate factors that impact these risk factors.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.