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Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews

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Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews

January 11, 2019

Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews

There is considerable evidence that higher levels of screentime is associated with a variety of health harms for children and young people (CYP), with evidence strongest for adiposity, unhealthy diet, depressive symptoms and quality of life. Evidence for impact on other health outcomes is largely weak or absent. We found no consistent evidence of health benefits from screentime. While evidence for a threshold to guide policy on CYP screentime exposure was very limited, there is weak evidence that small amounts of daily screen use is not harmful and may have some benefits.

These data broadly support policy action to limit screen use by CYP because of evidence of health harms across a broad range of domains of physical and mental health. We did not identify a threshold for safe screen use, although we note there was weak evidence for a threshold of 2 hours daily screentime for the associations with depressive symptoms and with HRQOL. We did not identify evidence supporting differential thresholds for younger children or adolescents.

Any potential limits on screentime must be considered in the light of a lack of understanding of the impact of the content or contexts of digital screen use. Given the rapid increase in screen use by CYP internationally over the past decade, particularly for new content areas such as social media, further research is urgently needed to understand the impact of the contexts and content of screen use on CYP health and well-being, particularly in relationship to mobile digital devices.

The full article can be downloaded below.  

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