Looking for science-backed data on the impact of screen time? New research reveals how different kinds of digital behaviors can impact everything from our mood to relationships. Here’s the latest:
How Facebook Impacts Mental Health
According to the social media network, its average user spends one hour per day scrolling through their Facebook feed, not only posting, but also liking, commenting and sharing. And that can have a serious impact on mental health, reveal researchers Holly B. Shakya and Nicholas A. Christakis. Tracking more than 5,000 people’s Facebook use over a period of two years, Shakya and Christakis compared people’s face-to-face social interactions with digital ones. The findings? Consistent use of Facebook — including liking other people’s posts and commenting on them — were associated with a reduction in physical health, mental health and life satisfaction. “When we accounted for a person’s level of initial well-being, initial real-world networks, and initial level of Facebook use, increased use of Facebook was still associated with a likelihood of diminished future well-being.”
Another study focused on the impact of Facebook and WhatApp on kids, with similar results. Economists from the University of Sheffield carried out the research, which asked 4,000 10- to 15-year olds to assess their level of happiness. Those who spent more time on social networks were overall more unhappy with their lives, particularly their looks, friendships and schoolwork.
Why Snooping Is Doomed to Fail
Kids whose parents spy on them behaved no worse than those who didn’t have prying parents, according to new research. But spying nevertheless comes at a heavy cost: Trust between kids and parents diminishes dramatically. Another study shows that when kids suspect that parents were spying on them — going through possessions, reading texts and emails — they were less likely to share information with their parents compared to teens who felt their parents respected boundaries of privacy.
Screen Time & Physical Activity
A recent study suggests that low physical activity combined with high screen time can leave teens increasingly vulnerable to depression. Researchers found that teens who did less than one hour a day of physical activity and spent more than two hours with digital devices were more likely to report depressive symptoms than teens who were physically active for one hour or more per day.