This project aims to shed more light on the association between the amount of time adolescents spend in front of digital screens (i.e., screen time) and mental health-outcomes including depression and anxiety, cognitive outcomes such as ADHD, and substance use including alcohol use and cannabis use.
In most Western societies, children and adolescents spend on average, 7 hours per day in front of a digital screen (Strasburger, 2011). Adolescents’ spare time-related screen activities, including social media use, video gaming, and television viewing (e.g., Twenge et al., 2019), is raising concerns among parents, health professionals, and educators (e.g., Kardaras, 2017). These concerns have triggered health and well-being organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The European Academy of Paediatrics (EAP), and the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) to recommend limiting time on screens for youth (Radesky & Christakis, 2016). To date, many studies have linked screen time to diminished well-being in adolescence.
However, the vast majority of these studies relied on cross-sectional designs, simply tested pre-post measures designs and/or only focused on screen-time frequency, therewith neglecting screen-time content. DigiVenture aims to extend previous works by studying the association of screen time and screen-time content and adolescent well-being from a longitudinal perspective.
The association of screen time and screen-time content and adolescent well-being is studied employing a repeated-measures design. That is, for five consecutive years, almost 4.000 adolescents from 31 high schools in the Greater Montreal Area annually responded to the CoVenture web-survey measuring, among others, their screen-time behaviour and outcomes related to their well-being such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and various types of substance use.
To assess the longitudinal association of screen time and screen-time content, we distinguish between three time-varying factors: between-person effects (the average screen time over 5 years), within-person effects (changes in screen time over 5 years compared to one’s mean exposure to screen time), and lagged within-person effects (screen time the year before compared to one’s mean screen time). Our design provides an opportunity to explore inferences about dependency between screen time, screen-time content, and well-being by examining how changes in on one variable are related to changes in the other, repeatedly over time.