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New study finds screen time for kids not that bad

Research shows only a small association between excessive screen time and higher levels of depression and delinquency in teens.

By
Amy Wallace
Researchers have found that screen time may not be as detrimental as previously thought among teens. Photo by Potstock/Shutterstock
Researchers have found that screen time may not be as detrimental as previously thought among teens. Photo by Potstock/Shutterstock

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A new study from Stetson University in Florida has found that limiting screen time for children and teens is not as necessary as previously thought.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently dropped its recommendation of only two hours of screen time a day for children and teens, which corroborates evidence that screen time recommendations are often estimates and not clear.

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Researchers led by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University studied the effects of screen time on teens and found that there is only a slight association between excessive screen time and higher levels of depression and delinquency.

Ferguson and his team analyzed data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of 6,089 youths at an average of 16 years old.

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The teens were questioned about their sleeping patterns, physical activity, meals with family, screen time and if they had symptoms of depression. The teens also provided information on their grades and if they participated in risky behavior, used illegal drugs or had eating disorders. The survey participants were half male and half female.

Results showed that screen time of up to six hours a day did not significantly negatively affect children and any negative outcomes reported were very small and affected males more often.

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Screen time accounted for only 0.49 percent of the difference in delinquency, 1.7 percent in depressive symptoms and 1.2 percent in grade point average. Screen time did not have an impact on risky driving, risky sex, substance abuse or eating disorder prevalence.

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"Although an 'everything in moderation' message when discussing screen time with parents may be most productive, our results do not support strong focus on screen time as a preventable measure for youth problem behaviors," Ferguson said in a press release.

Ferguson believes more focus should be put on how media is used rather than on time alone.

The study was published in Psychiatric Quarterly.

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