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Screen exposure, mental health and emotional well-being in the adolescent population: is it time for governments to take action?

Abstract

During the last decade, a multitude of epidemiological studies with different designs have been published assessing the association between the use of digital media and psychological well-being, including the incidence of mental disorders and suicidal behaviours. Particularly, available research has very often focused on smartphone use in teenagers, with highly addictive potential, coining the term ‘problematic smartphone use’ and developing specific scales to measure the addictive or problematic use of smartphones. Available studies, despite some methodological limitations and gaps in knowledge, suggest that higher screen time is associated with impaired psychological well-being, lower self-esteem, higher levels of body dissatisfaction, higher incidence of eating disorders, poorer sleeping outcomes and higher odds of depressive symptoms in adolescents. Moreover, a significant association has also been found between screen time and higher suicide risk. Finally, problematic pornography has been shown to be highly prevalent and it is a strong cause of concern to many public health departments and national governments because it might be eventually associated with aggressive sexual behaviours.

  • BEHAVIOR, ADDICTIVE
  • DEPRESSION
  • SUICIDE
  • SEX EDUCATION

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