“We need more transparent and credible collaborations between scientists and technology companies to unlock the answers. The data exists within the tech industry; scientists just need to be able to access it for neutral and independent investigation,” Przybylski said. “As?more data accumulates on adolescents’ use of emerging technologies, our knowledge of them?and their effects on mental health will become more precise,” said Andy Przybylski, director of research at Oxford Internet Institute and senior author on the study. “So,?it’s too soon to?draw?firm conclusions about the increasing, or declining, associations between social media and?adolescent mental health, and it is certainly way too soon to be making policy or regulation on this basis.”? ###
“If we want to understand the relationship between tech and well-being today, we need to first go back and look at historic data–as far back as when parents were concerned too much TV would give their kids square eyes–in order to bring the contemporary concerns we have about newer technologies into focus,” said Matti Vuorre, a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and lead author on the paper. Of the eight associations examined in this research, only three showed some change over time. Social media use and television viewing became less strongly associated with depression. In contrast, social media’s association with emotional problems did increase, although only slightly. The study found no consistent changes in technology engagement’s associations with conduct problems or suicidality.
The study also highlighted key factors preventing scientists from conclusively determining how technology use relates to mental health. The new study, which included 430,000 U.K. and U.S. adolescents, investigated the links between social media use and depression, emotional problems, and conduct problems. It also examined the associations between television viewing and suicidality, depression, emotional problems, and conduct problems. Finally, the study explored the association between digital device use and suicidality.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system. Reference: Vuorre, M., Orben, A., & Przybylski, A. (2021). There is no evidence that associations between adolescents’ digital technology engagement and mental health problems have increased. Clinical Psychological Science. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702621994549
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