Screen Time Is No Worse For Teens Than Eating Potatoes
New research has found computer screens, tablets and smartphones have almost no effect on a child's well-being.
If you google 'effects of technology on kids', you're hit with an overload of information. From how much screen time children should have each day, to the effects it has on a child's mental health.
Most of it is bad, unhealthy news.
But new research from the University of Oxford has debunked those claims.
A study involving over 300,000 teenagers and parents in the UK and US has revealed that only 0.4 percent of adolescent wellbeing could be associated with technology use.
That's roughly the same effect as eating potatoes regularly, lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, from the Oxford Internet Institute, said.
Basics like getting enough sleep and eating breakfast also had stronger impacts on wellbeing than screen time.
There was a lot of misinformation and badly explained research about the effects of technology on children, which is confusing parents and policymakers, explained Professor Przybylski.
"We needed to take the topic beyond cherry-picked results, so we developed an approach that helped us harvest the whole orchard,” he said.
Researchers used a method called Specification Curve Analysis on three separate studies carried out between 2007 and 2016.
“Of the three datasets we analysed for this study, we found over 600 million possible ways to analyse the data," Author Amy Orben noted.
"We calculated a large sample of these and found that -- if you wanted -- you could come up with a large range of positive or negative associations between technology and wellbeing, or no effect at all,” she said.
So, they looked at the full range of correlations within the data, and also examined the practical significance to find, what they believe, is the most genuine conclusion.
That is, that screen time has close to no association with mental health issues.
There's no denying technology has become a staple in most Australian households. Market research company Roy Morgan estimates 9 in 10 Aussie teens have a phone.
The Sydney Children's Hospital Network has issued screen time guidelines to help concerned parents out.
But, if this study is anything to go by, screen time has very little effect on the mental health of adolescents.