We know teens are spending more time than ever in front of screens thanks to coronavirus lockdowns and remote learning, but a new study suggests it’s definitely detrimental to kids’ mental health, but there is a way to improve things.
In a study out of the University of British Columbia, conducted before the pandemic, scientists found that spending more time doing extracurricular activities, and less than two hours in front of screens after school results in better mental health among adolescents, particularly young girls.
Those who took part in more activities and had less screentime were more likely to have higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and lower levels of anxiety and depression. This is true for both genders, although the study notes that higher amounts of screentime was particularly harmful to the mental health of young girls.
Researchers note that while finding extracurricular activities may be particularly hard right now due to the pandemic, it’s still important to try and find something safe for them to do.
- “Although we conducted this study before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Eva Oberle, lead author of the study, notes, “the findings are especially relevant now when teens may be spending more time in front of screens in their free time if access to extracurricular activities, like sports and arts programs is restricted due to COVID-19.” She adds, “Finding safe ways for children and teens to continue to participate in these activities during current times may be a way to reduce screen time and promote mental health and wellbeing.”