Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Using time-use diary study data to investigate the impact of digital technology use on adolescent well-being

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Day:Tue 2 Jul
  • Andrew Przybylski, University of Oxford

The idea that digital screen engagement decreases adolescent well-being has become a recurring feature in public, political and scientific conversation. The current level of psychological evidence, however, is far removed from the certainty voiced by many commentators. There is little clear-cut evidence that ‘screen time’ decreases adolescent well-being, with most psychological results based on single-country, exploratory studies that rely on inaccurate but popular self-report measures of digital screen engagement. This study, encompassing three nationally representative large-scale datasets from Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom (ntot= 17,314) and including improved time-use diary measures of digital screen engagement. In this talk we will detail how we used the American and Irish data for exploratory model building and data derived from the latest release of the Millennium Cohort Study to investigate, and explicitly test, the impact of technology use on young people. By applying this rigorous empirical lens we will introduce and explain the methodological and analytical value of adopting this incremental mindset in an area of growing topic of popular concern. We find little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital screen engagement - measured either throughout the day or particularly before bedtime - and adolescent well-being.