The results underscore that it is not so much the amount of time spent in front of the screen that results in mental health problems, but the nature of the online habits of younger people. In fact, in the UK, children between the ages of 5 and 16 spend an average of 6.3 hours a day looking at a screen.
To obtain these results, the experts administered a questionnaire to 118 very young people between the ages of 8 and 12 at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Tests revealed that children tend to “devour” more digital media at the same time as they grow up and this phenomenon could be dangerous for their mental well-being.
“We observe that children consume large amounts of media and that the media are essentially multitasking,” said the dottor Pedro Cardoso-Leite, co-author of the research at the University of Luxembourg. “The analyzes show how the simultaneous use of multiple media in particular was related to mental health problems, while playing video games was associated with a faster response as well as an improvement in cognitive ability“.
The researchers found that both general media consumption and multitasking (comparable to listening to music while scrolling on social media), they increased as children got older. The children belonging to the 12-year-old sample spent 8 hours and 14 minutes a day on digital devices, compared to just 4 hours and 28 minutes spent by the group of 8-year-olds.
Children working simultaneously on multiple screens or devices were found to be more prone to the possibility of running into mental health problems, decreased socio-emotional functioning, lack of sleep and behavioral problems in the family and school context. Those who played exclusively video games were much less likely to suffer the same deficits.
“It is not uncommon to read that screen time should be limited“, said Dr Cardoso-Leite.” The present study indicates that such aggregate measures of media consumption are not sufficient and documents that both the type of media used, as well as the way they are consumed, are both critical. ” On the other hand, no variation in the results was recorded in the way in which the media were used by girls and boys. Only when it came to video games did it emerge in the study that boys spent more time there a day than girls.
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