Digital Media Exposure and Well-Being

Two studies show that increased digital media exposure (DME) is inversely related to a child’s well-being.

In the first study (S Ruest et al. J Pediatr 2018; 197: 268-74), the authors analyzed more than 64,000 U.S. children (2011-2012). ages 6-17 years.  Only 31% reported <2 hours per day of DME.  2-4 hrs/day of DME was noted in 36%, 4-6 hrs/day in 17%, and >6 hrs in 17%.  There was an inverse relationship between DME and 5 markers of well-being: completing homework, caring about academics, finishing tasks, staying calm when challenged, and showing interest in learning.

In the second study (P-Y Pin et al. J Pediatr 2018; 197: 262-7), the authors conducted a 1 year prospective trial with 1861 adolescents.  They found that 23% had internet addiction at baseline, with internet addiction based on the Chen Internet Addiction Scale. 59 students (3.9%) developed new self-harm/suicidal behaviors.  Internet addiction risk conferred a 2.41 relative risk of emerging self-harm/suicidal behaviors.

My take: These studies document a strong association between digital media exposure/internet addiction and worrisome behaviors/worsened well-being.

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