It’s become common to blame smartphone and tablet addiction for poor mental health in young people – but scientists say there’s little truth behind the idea.
Oxford University researchers found that factors such as wearing glasses or regularly eating potatoes had about the same impact on teenage wellbeing as screen time.
The researchers found that prolonged screen time had a contribution of just 0.4% to an adolescent’s overall wellbeing.
Factors such as smoking cannabis or being bullied were much worse for mental health, with cannabis use being 2.7 times worse, and being bullied 4.3 times worse.
Other factors such as eating breakfast were much more important than screen time, the researchers found.
Professor Andrew Przybylski of the University of Oxford said, ‘Our findings demonstrate that screen use itself has at most a tiny association with youth mental health.
‘The 0.4 per cent contribution of screen use on young people’s mental health needs to be put in context for parents and policymakers.
‘Within the same dataset, we were able to demonstrate that including potatoes in your diet showed a similar association with adolescent wellbeing.
‘Wearing corrective lenses had an even worse association.’