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How much does the use of technology affect kids and teenagers?

According to a study by Oxford University, the well-being of teenagers is related to the use of technology by 0.4% .

Man with a computer on the street

Study indicates that these beliefs are empirical and based on secondary analysis of social data on a large scale. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ¿Qué tanto afecta el uso de tecnología a jóvenes y adolescentes?

It is often believed that the well-being of teenagers and young people is directly affected in a negative way by the close relationship they have with screens. This idea is generalized by the constant use that these people make of their cell phones, smart tablets and computers. However, according to a study conducted by the University of Oxford and published in the scientific journal Nature Human Behavior, the evidence supporting these beliefs is empirical and based on secondary analyzes of social data on a large scale . The results of these studies may be contradictory so these claims may be wrong.

Amy Orben and Andrew K. Przybylski, researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, were in charge of the study in which data from more than 300,000 teenagers and parents in the United Kingdom and the United States were examined . Using a curve analysis methodology, they examined the evidence from three groups of large-scale social data, in order not to fall into the contradictory results of the secondary analyzes. According to Orben, "it is necessary to take the issue beyond the selected results, so we developed an approach that helps us deal with all the data together."

The study concluded that the use of technology negatively affects the well-being of young people and teenagers by only 0.4%, narrowly outweighing the negative effect of eating potato chips regularly .

Also read: How did the war between Facebook and Apple come about and what does it mean?

“Our findings show that screen use has, at best, a small association with youth mental health. This is a piece of information that parents and educational authorities have to consider and put in context. Using the same data set, we were able to show that the inclusion of potatoes in their diet showed a similar association with the well-being of teenagers. Corrective lens wear has an even worse association”, Przybylski said .

Likewise, the research showed that the use of marijuana and suffering has a negative association in the mental health of young people from 2.7 to 4.3 times higher than the constant use of screens . Even other very frequent activities like not getting enough sleep or not eating a good breakfast have a much higher and stronger impact than the use of technology .

To date, and thanks to the methodology used by the experts, this is the most conclusive study on the negative impact on the well-being and mental health of young people and teenagers due to the use of technology . That is why the study draws attention to the importance of using more exact methodologies to be able to target the root of the problem. This is very important, considering that in the broader context the effects of technology are so minimal that a policy change is not justified.