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Spending time in front of screens could help kids make friends, claims study

Ever since the invention of the TV, parents have complained about their children getting ‘square eyes’ from too much screen time.

Screen time has skyrocketed among children since the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents have been concerned about whether their children may be suffering from gaming addiction.

However, a new study from the University of Colorado has assessed 11,875 nine- and 10-year-old children and concluded that increased screen time is “unlikely to be directly harmful”.

Researchers examined the effects of screen time on mental health, academic performance as well as sleep habits and relationships between peers in the largest-scale study.

Boys using digital tablet and cell phone with puppies sleeping in laps
Spending time in front of screens might not be as harmful as feared, a study claims

While TV and videogame use among kids is ‘moderately’ associated with increased behavioural problems, poorer sleep, and worse academic performance, this was largely down to just how much children spend on screens.

Startlingly, the study found that children’s friendships and peer relationships were enhanced by screen time – as any parent who has had to tell their kids to keep it down on Fortnite can surely attest.

“Adolescence is a critical developmental period during which important aspects of health and well-being are easily influenced,” the researchers write.

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“As electronic media use among adolescents climbs, screens are increasingly incorporated into adolescents’ development, and therefore, potential relationships between screen time and adolescent well-being are of interest.”

Children’s experiences with electronic media vary based on the type of screen they use. The impact on anxiety and depression can be affected by whether children are texting, playing games, or watching TV. The study argues that screen time itself is not automatically a cause for concern, but rather, it is how kids are using screens that matters.

It is currently a controversial topic to discuss the use of electronic media and screens by children. China has recently placed a limit of three hours per week on gaming for children under 18 years old. They also suspended licences for new videogames as part a crackdown against gaming.

Spending time in front of screens could help kids make friends, claims study
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.


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