A recent research at San Diego State University (SDSU) explored the relationship between screen time and life satisfaction in teens. Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at the San Diego State University, revealed that the teens who indulged in more than an hour of screen time daily are relatively unhappier.
To explore this relationship further, Jeann along with her colleagues, W. Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia and Gabrielle Martin from SDSU, collected data from a nationwide survey of around one million students from the 8th, 10th and 12th grades. The nationwide survey through a longitudinal study was conducted by The Monitoring the Future (MtF). The survey asked the students how much time they spent on tablets, phones and computers. The students were also asked about their overall happiness and face-to-face social interactions they made daily.
On an average, the survey found that teens who spent more than one hour on screen devices, playing video games, using social media platforms, texting and video calling, were generally less happy than teens who spend more time in several non-screen activities like playing sports, reading magazines and newspapers, and face-to-face social interactions.
Several studies have already shown that increased social media usage leads to unhappiness. However, unhappiness does not lead to an increased social media usage.
The researchers found that total abstinence from screen also doesn’t lead to happiness. The happiest students among the survey used digital media for around an hour daily. The research was recently published in the journal Emotion.
Twenge further explained that teens must spend less than two hours daily on digital media platforms. They must increase their face-to-face social interactions and indulge in physical activities as these activities are linked to greater happiness.
Adolescents and young people’s self-esteem, happiness and life satisfaction dropped drastically after 2012. Twenge observed that 2012 was the year when more than 50 percent of Americans owned smartphones.
Twenge explained that the greatest change in the lives of teens between the 2012 and 2016 was marked by an increase in screen time, rapid decline in face-to-face social interactions and reduced sleeping hours. The alarming increase in the usage of smartphones is the most probable cause of sudden decrease in emotional and psychological well-being of U.S. teens.