A survey on increased screen time in children and its effects on mental health

Dr Nahida M Mulla M . D, MACH
HOD,  Professor & PG guide Department of Paediatrics
Child Counselor
A M Shaikh Homoeopathic Medical College Belagavi

PG Scholar MD part 2


DURATION OF STUDY: The study was conducted for 6 months duration. From May 2022 to October 2022

OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationship between increased screen time in children of 10 -15 years of age and its ills effect on mental health.

Technological innovation has allowed us to communicate with others instantaneously, increasing the ability to create and maintain social connections. The ubiquity of electronic media over the past 60 years across several generations, has led to greater focus on research evaluating the effects of screen time throughout critical periods of development. Evidence suggests that chronic sensory stimulation via excessive exposure to screen time may affect brain development in negative ways.

Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are current public health issues. For instance, World Health Organization (2017) claim that about 322 million individuals have been diagnosed with depression globally, and corresponding number for anxiety are 264 million people worldwide. Furthermore, on average, females suffer more than males from mental health problems (WHO, 2017).

Mental health problems are commonly developed during adolescence, and there are several risk factors for mental problems. Low social support and substance use is a risk behaviour that can negatively affect mental health. In addition, extensive social media use is associated with decreased mental well-being.

The increasing use of electronic media by young children may have adverse consequences on future cognitive functioning and attentional focus, considering the acquisition of learning and attention capacities throughout the critical developmental periods of childhood. Excessive smartphone use may increase the risk of cognitive, behavioural, and emotional disorders in adolescents and young adults that also has the potential to increase the risk of early onset dementia in late adulthood.

Previous studies have examined associations between ST and a broad array of psychological health indicators (e.g., anxiety, depression, aggression, attention problems) among children and youth, yet results from these works have yielded mixed findings. Thus, it is imperative that researchers acknowledge this landscape by examining how the different types of screens and screen content relate to emotional and behavioural health indicators.

Additionally, several researchers have called for more studies examining potential mediators for the relationship between ST and psychological health outcomes. With digitalization reaching its peak, it is vital to understand the effects it has on health.

The purpose of this survey is to assess the increased screen time in children aged 10 to 15 years and its ill effects on their mental health.

In this study, most participants were females 55%, followed by males 45%. In this study, the age group which predominantly participated is seen to be in 13 years 30% followed by 12 years of age 26.66% followed by 14 years 16.66% and 11 & 15 years of age 8.33%.

The amount of time spent on screen per typical week by the participants in this study was more than 2 hours (43.33%) in majority of participants. Most used screen one hour prior to sleep 71%. It was found that in majority parents does share their screen time experienced with children. It was seen that in half of the participant parents does not set screen time limit and children disobey limit set by the parents frequently and often 21.66%. It was also found that children prefer spending time on screen always than with family 26.66%. In was seen that frequently these children has low grades from increased used of screen 31.66%.

In this study, it was found that 30% of children get angry when forcing them to stop from using any screen devices. 30% always feel depressed or moody when offline, 26.66% always feel tired for no good reason, 21.66% often and always feel nervous without good reason. 26.66% was restless always when not on screen, 26.66% frequently feel hopeless for past 4 weeks and 43.33% occasionally feel sad for past 4 weeks.

Conclusion and recommendation for further study if any:

The conclusive points for the survey study done are as follows:

  • AGE: The age group in which most participants were between 13 years of age (30%).
  • GENDER: female (55%) participants are more compared to the males (45%).
  • TIME SPENT ON SCREEN PER TYPICAL WEEK: The majority of them spent more than 2 hours (43.33%).
  • USE OF DEVICE ONE HOUR BEFORE SLEEP: majority used their device before sleep (70%).
  • SHARING OF SCREEN TIME EXPERIENCE BY PARENTS: in majority of the participants parents do not share.
  • SETTING OF DEVICE LIMIT: it was seen that half of parent do not set proper limit.
  • DISOBEY SETTING LIMIT: frequently and often children disobey set limit.
  • PREFER SPENDING TIME ON SCREEN THAN WITH FAMILY: in 26.66% it was found that children prefer screen time over family time.
  • LOW GRADES FROM INCREASED SCREEN TIME: in 33.66% children suffer low grades.
  • ANGRY WHEN FORCED TO STOP: 30% of children get angry.
  • DEPRESSED OR MOODY, TIRED, NERVOUS, RESTLESS WHEN OFFLINE: seen in 26.66%, 21.66%,26.66% and 26.66%
  • HOPELESS AND SAD FOR PAST 4 WEEKS: 26.66% and 43.33% respectively.

More studies need to be carried out regarding this issue in order to address the problem more precisely and strengthen the strategies further for the near future.


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