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Why teens should restrict screen time

December 01, 2019 08:10 IST

More the time adolescents spend on mobile phone, computer screen, the more it leads to a rise in anxiety symptoms, a study has revealed.

Screen time

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

More the time spent on the mobile phone, computer screen, more it leads to a rise in anxiety symptoms among adolescents, says a new study.

However, the study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, has kept video games out of the list, revealing that television viewing, computer use and not video game playing, is linked to an increase in anxiety symptoms.

It also pointed out that a higher than average frequency of social media use, television viewing and computer use over four years predicts more severe symptoms of anxiety over that same time frame.

The study demonstrated that if a teen experienced an increase in his social media use, television viewing and computer use in a given year which surpassed their overall average level of use, then his or her anxiety symptoms also increased in that same year.

Furthermore, when adolescents decreased their social media use, television viewing, and computer use, their symptoms of anxiety became less severe. Thus, no lasting effects were found.

Thus, it appears that computer use is uniquely associated to increase in anxiety, potentially in relation to using the computer for homework activities, but this needs further research, explained study's lead author, Elroy Boers, a post-doctoral researcher at UdeM's Department of Psychiatry.

Also, this study could have important implications for how youth and families choose to regulate digital screen time in order to prevent and reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Researchers followed almost four thousand Canadian teenagers from age 12 to 16 who were part of the Co-Venture Trial.

Each year of high school, teens were asked to self-report time spent in front of digital screens and specified amount of time spent engaging in four different types of screen time activities -- social media, television, video gaming and computer use.

The teenagers completed self-reported questionnaires on various anxiety symptoms at ages 12 to 16. Then, after data collection, state-of-the-art statistical analyses were performed to assess the between-person, with-person, and lagged-within person associations between screen time and anxiety in adolescence.

These analyses augment standard analyses by modelling the year-to-year changes of both sets of problems, thus, taking into account possible common vulnerability and possible natural developmental changes in each set of behaviours or symptoms.

"These findings suggest that one way to help teens manage anxiety could be to help them limit the amount of time they spend in front screens", said senior author Dr Patricia Conrod, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal and CHU Ste Justine.

Source: ANI