A new study concluded that there is a certain amount of screen time that is beneficial for teens.
Published in the scientific journal Psychological Science, the researchers followed 120,000 adolescents in the UK to see if there was a relationship between overall well-being and amount of time plugged in. Initially, there seemed to be no relationship. Upon closer examination of the data, the researchers realized that there was a “sweet spot” for screen time for teens. For smart phone use, for example, the teens’ well-being increased up until about two hours per weekday. The teens who used their smart phones for longer periods of time scored lower and lower on the well-being measures. You can read more about the study by clicking here.
The study’s results solidify the role of technology in the lives of both modern teens and adults. While internet access was not necessary for academic success in high school even fifteen years ago, virtually all students and professionals are now expected to use the internet regularly. Computer time for teens has become a matter of both work and recreation. However, teens who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen are more likely to neglect other aspects of a healthy lifestyle– there are only so many hours in a day.
Moderation, then, is essential for the modern teen, as is self-discipline and the ability to critically evaluate media content. Parents can help teens set limits for personal computer use that involve both quality and quantity. While there is much online that can broaden intellectual horizons, much of the internet’s content has only recreational value. It takes maturity and a discernment to find the “sweet spot.” At what point, for example, has reading Google News evolved from keeping up on current events to skimming one clickbait article after another?
There are few easy answers, but studies such as this one can provide insight and guidance for families.