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More Teen Screen Time During Pandemic Tied to Worse Mental Health, Stress

In national sample of teens, social support and coping behaviors tied to lower screen use in May 2020

FRIDAY, Nov. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Early in the pandemic, adolescents reported spending nearly eight hours a day on screens, according to a research letter published online Nov. 1 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Jason M. Nagata, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues evaluated adolescents’ self-reported screen use during the pandemic across seven modalities by sociodemographic categories. Additionally, associations were evaluated between mental health and resiliency factors with screen use. The analysis included 5,412 adolescents (aged 10 to 14 years) participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study in May 2020.

The researchers found that adolescents reported a mean of 7.70 hours/day of screen use, mostly spent on watching or streaming videos, movies, or television shows (2.42 hours/day), multiple-player gaming (1.44 hours/day), and single-player gaming (1.17 hours/day). Poorer mental health and greater perceived stress were significantly associated with higher total screen use. Lower total screen use was significantly associated with more social support and coping behaviors.

“Future studies should examine screen use trends as pandemic restrictions are lifted and also explore mechanisms to prevent sociodemographic disparities,” the authors write.

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