Destructive results of display screen time linked to decrease socioeconomic standing


By age 12, possession of cell phones amongst younger individuals is “close to common”, with many 5-18 12 months olds additionally gaining access to a TV (97%), video games console (77%), pill pc (74%) or laptop computer (67%) (Ofcom, 2023). Very excessive numbers of younger individuals due to this fact have entry to digital applied sciences and repeatedly use them for various functions (Ofcom, 2023).

Earlier analysis has reported combined findings relating to the affect of frequent digital use on adolescents’ socioemotional wellbeing (e.g., Berryman et al., 2018; Kelly et al., 2018) and tutorial improvement (Could & Elder, 2018). Throughout socioeconomic teams, analysis additionally suggests that oldsters of upper socioeconomic standing (SES) present richer entry and help round digital know-how (Hargittai & Hinnant, 2008; Hatlevik et al., 2015).

Nevertheless, there are nonetheless gaps in our understanding – as an example, understanding how digital use impacts outcomes over time might uncover vital patterns throughout improvement. As well as, socioeconomic standing (SES) has been considerably neglected as a moderator between digital use, tutorial efficiency and wellbeing. Bohnert and Gracia (2023) aimed to handle these gaps through the use of longitudinal information.

We know that many young people have access to digital technology, which can have positive and negative effects. However, less is known about the impact of digital technology on academic and wellbeing outcomes across adolescence, particularly for those from more deprived backgrounds.

We all know that many younger individuals have entry to digital know-how, which might have constructive and unfavourable results. Nevertheless, much less is thought in regards to the affect of digital know-how on tutorial and wellbeing outcomes throughout adolescence, notably for these from extra disadvantaged backgrounds.


The authors utilised the Rising Up in Eire (GUI) examine, following a 1998 beginning cohort at ages 9, 13 and 17/18 to collect information in regards to the little one, dad and mom, and family – together with data on digital engagement and outcomes. Good!

At every age, fluctuations in display screen time, exercise (e.g., social media, studying, gaming), and socioeconomic standing had been in comparison with outcomes in socio-emotional wellbeing (internalising/externalising difficulties, prosociality) and tutorial efficiency (English and Maths). Potential confounding variables had been managed for.

Longitudinal information was analysed utilizing fixed-effects regression fashions to discover associations between digital engagement, wellbeing, and tutorial outcomes over time.


The ultimate pattern included 7,685 individuals, with 51% figuring out as male and 51.7% figuring out as low socioeconomic standing (SES). Analyses of the info supplied three most important contributions to the literature:

1. Abstract of how digital engagement and outcomes evolve throughout adolescence by socioeconomic standing (SES)

  • Digital time:
    • Display screen time elevated over adolescence, extra so for low SES people.
    • Variations between SES teams widened over time from age 13.
  • Digital exercise:
    • Social media use elevated from 41% (age 9), to 91% (age 13), to 99% (age 17-18).
    • Gaming decreased from 86% (age 9) to 37% (17/18).
    • Studying actions elevated from 73% (age 9) to 98% (17/18).
    • Few variations discovered throughout SES teams, though high-SES adolescents had been extra prone to interact in studying actions (ages 9 and 13).
  • Tutorial and socioemotional outcomes:
    • Prosocial functioning and tutorial efficiency had been secure over time.
    • Internalising difficulties decreased while externalising issues elevated from ages 13 to 17/18.

2. Associations between digital use and outcomes all through adolescence

  • Digital time:
    • Throughout adolescence, heavy every day display screen time (3+ hours) was related to decreases in wellbeing and elevated socioemotional difficulties (B = .019, p < .001), notably externalising behaviours (B = .026, p < .001) and prosocial functioning (B = -.022, p < .001), however not internalising difficulties.
  • Digital exercise:
    • Studying-oriented actions had been related to elevated prosocial functioning (B = .015, p < .001), and (understandably) Maths (B = .014, p < .001) and English efficiency (B = .011, p < .01).
    • Gaming was surprisingly related to elevated tutorial efficiency (B = .008, p < .01, B = .006, p < .05) alongside decreased socioemotional difficulties (B = −.005; p < .05).

3, How longitudinal associations between digital use and outcomes differs throughout SES

  • Low-SES:
    • Elevated digital time negatively affected wellbeing (B = .016, p < .01, B = .027; p < .001, B = .035; p < .001), internalising (B = .019, p < .05), and externalising difficulties (B = .022, p < .001, B = .029; p < .001, B = .050; p < .001).
    • Academic actions weren’t positively related with enhancements in English and Maths.
  • Excessive-SES:
    • Solely heavy digital time was related to socioemotional difficulties (B = .017; p < .05)
    • Studying-oriented actions had been positively related with tutorial efficiency (B = .012, p < .05, B = .014; p < .001) and prosocial functioning (B = .012, p < .05).
Findings indicate that increased digital activity among adolescents from low socioeconomic backgrounds is associated with decreased wellbeing and increased internalising and externalising difficulties.

Findings point out that elevated digital exercise amongst adolescents from low socioeconomic backgrounds is related to decreased wellbeing and elevated internalising and externalising difficulties.


This examine was the primary longitudinal evaluation to discover the significance of socioeconomic standing (SES) in how digital use impacts socioemotional and tutorial outcomes throughout adolescence, emphasising “amount and high quality of digital engagement being key to understanding variations”.

Throughout adolescence, heavy every day display screen time was related to declines in wellbeing. Conversely, sure actions benefitted tutorial efficiency.

Results diverse throughout SES the place digital engagement was related to socioeconomic inequalities in adolescents’ wellbeing and academic outcomes. Low-SES adolescents had been typically extra harmed by digital engagement, whereas adolescents from privileged backgrounds might keep away from dangers higher and maximise advantages on constructive outcomes like tutorial efficiency.

Socioeconomic divides, in turn, reinforce digital divides in society, where those of higher economic backgrounds have the privilege of minimal risk and maximum reward.

Socioeconomic divides, in flip, reinforce digital divides in society, the place these of upper financial backgrounds have the privilege of minimal danger and most reward.

Strengths and limitations

The novel strategy of this analysis strengthens earlier findings while offering precious, distinctive proof round digital know-how, SES, and longitudinal outcomes. For instance, though display screen time variations are established between SES teams, this examine uniquely contributes when this emerges.

Nevertheless, you will need to be conscious of a number of limitations:

  • The Rising Up in Eire (GUI) cohort lacks generalisability to different contexts. The solely Irish individuals had been born earlier than the arrival of the smartphone, and earlier than the “phenomenal innovation” of the 2010’s (World X). The digital panorama is ever accelerating, and so much has seemingly modified in how adolescents interact with digital applied sciences for the reason that examine started.
  • Methodological drawbacks additionally relate to doubtlessly imprecise and unreliable measures of display screen time and exercise by way of parental studies or estimates. Categorisations of SES additionally appeared imprecise, with pattern sizes being too small to differentiate sub-groups. These points danger undermining the outcomes by omitting different nuances/key variables on this relationship.
  • The first limitation of this analysis is the danger it poses to misattributing causal mechanisms behind these findings. Though longitudinal information offers “extra substantive conclusions” than information from a single time level, it can’t all the time uncover directionality which I imagine this analysis dangers erroneously suggesting. For instance, though heavy display screen time was discovered to be related to decrease wellbeing, we can’t assure that display screen time causes declines in wellbeing. These with decrease socioemotional wellbeing outcomes, for no matter purpose, may very well be utilizing digital applied sciences extra continuously as a coping technique. Likewise, we can’t definitively say that adolescents have elevated display screen time as they age: findings might alternatively simply be indicative of how digital know-how and on-line entry has proliferated over time for younger individuals of all ages.
  • This analysis doesn’t present proof across the mechanisms driving these relationships, deciphering the findings as such needs to be finished with warning.
Warning! Unique longitudinal findings should be interpreted with caution. We cannot conclude directional causes of this relationship, and methodological drawbacks should be noted.

Warning! Distinctive longitudinal findings needs to be interpreted with warning. We can’t conclude directional causes of this relationship, and methodological drawbacks needs to be famous.

Implications for follow

Firstly, future analysis is inspired to handle the shortcomings of this examine, with a selected concentrate on uncovering causal mechanisms on this relationship and disentangling “the advanced interaction between social inequality and digital processes” for adolescents’ wellbeing.

Younger individuals and fogeys needs to be conscious of potential dangers to wellbeing from frequent display screen time, and that amount of digital use was extra influential than content material or exercise sort. Assist needs to be supplied for younger individuals in these respects, notably to these of decrease SES backgrounds who’re at elevated danger from digital engagement and fewer capable of capitalise on the advantages.

Digital use was discovered to have some constructive results, notably learning-oriented actions benefitting tutorial efficiency. That is excellent news for me after utilizing a revision app to hopefully cross my driving concept take a look at! Dad and mom needs to be made conscious of this, and younger individuals needs to be supported to interact in such actions by steering and provision of entry. Though, the “goldilocks stage of digital use” might range based on SES contexts so needs to be fastidiously thought-about in these efforts.

Moreover, these of a decrease SES had been discovered to much less continuously use digital know-how for studying actions and even after they did, had been much less capable of entry the tutorial or socioemotional advantages. Different research have discovered dad and mom of upper SES present richer entry and help round digital know-how (Hargittai & Hinnant, 2008; Hatlevik et al., 2015). Those that are due to this fact unable to have this entry within the dwelling needs to be supported in different settings, corresponding to in school.

Consideration must also be paid to how gaming was related to greater tutorial efficiency, alongside decrease socioemotional difficulties, seemingly by social help, networking, and a discount in loneliness (Berryman et al., 2018; Davis, 2012). This contributes to a rising physique of vital literature which finds proof for the social, emotional, and tutorial advantages of gaming (Pine et al., 2020; Kowal et al., 2021), difficult frequent misconceptions from information articles and studies (BBC, 2018; Financial Occasions, 2023). The current examine offers precious longitudinal proof to be thought-about on this debate.

Lastly, clinicians ought to use these findings when chatting with younger individuals with socioemotional or psychological well being difficulties, asking questions on digital use, each time and exercise, notably if the younger particular person is of low SES.

Young people, parents, and practitioners should understand the positive and negative impacts of digital engagement on various outcomes throughout adolescence. Particular attention should be paid to those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Younger individuals, dad and mom, and practitioners ought to perceive the constructive and unfavourable impacts of digital engagement on varied outcomes all through adolescence. Specific consideration needs to be paid to these from decrease socioeconomic backgrounds.

Assertion of pursuits

None to reveal.


Main paper

Bohnert, M., & Gracia, P. (2023). Digital use and socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent effectively‐being: Longitudinal proof on socioemotional and academic outcomesJournal of Adolescence.

Different references

Berryman, C., Ferguson, C. J., & Negy, C. (2018). Social media use and psychological well being amongst younger adults. Psychiatric Quarterly, 89(2), 307–314.

Davis, Okay. (2012). Friendship 2.0: Adolescents’ experiences of belonging and self‐disclosure on-line. Journal of Adolescence, 35(6), 1527–1536.

Hargittai, E., & Hinnant, A. (2008). Digital inequality: Variations in younger adults’ use of the Web. Communication Analysis, 35(5), 602–621.

Hatlevik, O. E., Guðmundsdóttir, G. B., & Loi, M. (2015). Digital range amongst higher secondary college students: A multilevel evaluation of the connection between cultural capital, self‐efficacy, strategic use of data and digital competence. Computer systems & Training, 81, 345–353.

Kelly, Y., Zilanawala, A., Booker, C., & Sacker, A. (2018). Social media use and adolescent psychological well being: Findings from the UK millennium cohort examine. EClinicalMedicine, 6, 59–68.

Kowal, M., Conroy, E., Ramsbottom, N., Smithies, T., Toth, A., & Campbell, M. (2021). Gaming Your Psychological Well being: A Narrative Assessment on Mitigating Signs of Melancholy and Nervousness Utilizing Industrial Video Video games. JMIR Severe Video games, 9(2), e26575.

Could, Okay. E., & Elder, A. D. (2018). Environment friendly, useful, or distracting? A literature assessment of media multitasking in relation to tutorial efficiency. Worldwide Journal of Academic Know-how in Larger Training, 15(1), 13.

Ofcom. (2023, March 29). Youngsters and Dad and mom: Media Use and Attitudes.

Palandrani, P. (2020, February 10). A Decade of Change: How Tech Advanced within the 2010s and What’s In Retailer for the 2020s. World X.

Pine, R., Fleming, T., McCallum, S,. & Sutcliffe, Okay. (2020). Nervousness, Melancholy, Stress, and Low Temper: A Systematic Assessment. Video games for Well being Journal, 9(4), 255-264.

Sing, P, Okay. (2023, July 25). How new-age gaming impacts your little one’s psychological, bodily and social well-being. The Financial Occasions.

Wakefield, J. (2018, January 2). Gaming dependancy categorized as dysfunction by WHO. BBC.

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