What’s Worse for Teen Mental Health: Screen Time or Potatoes?

There’s a constant debate on the negative effects of screen time on teen mental health.  Have you noticed that the there’s always some ‘worrying new research’ and the focus always falls down to the amount of time today’s kids spend on their phones, game consoles and tablets?  These days, 95% of 15 year olds in the UK use social media before or after school and over 1/3rd are ‘extreme internet users’  ( Education Policy Institute).

negative impact screen time teen mental health

A new piece of research, carried out by the University of Oxford tells a different story.  From a study of over 300,000 adolescents and parents in the UK and USA, the research found that only 0.4% of wellbeing in adolescents is associated with technology use.  In fact that’s similar to the effect of eating more potatoes!

Negative Factors Affecting Teen Mental Health

effect of bullying teen mental health

So if screen time is not playing an overly significant negative effect on youth mental health, then what is?

The study showed that being bullied had  4.3 times more negative association than screen time and smoking marijuana 2.7 times greater.

The full paper, ‘The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use,’ can be read in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

‘Bias and selective reporting of results is endemic to social and biological research influencing the screen time debate,’ said Professor Przybylski. ‘We need to put scientific findings in context for parents, policymakers and the general public.

Positive Effects on Teen Mental Wellbeing

benefits of sleep on teen mental health

Often overlooked by the media who are usually most interested in attention grabbing headlines are the factors that have a positive effect on adolescent wellbeing.

The research carried out by the University of Oxford found that having breakfast and getting enough sleep played a positive role in teen wellbeing. I’m pretty sure these could apply to parents too, I know I feel much better after a good night’s sleep.

Young Minds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.  They have 6 tips on their website for boosting self esteem.

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