Many parents worry that their Kids depend too much on the Smartphone or in front of the Computer. In fact, a study showed in 2017: The more time teenagers spend on the screen, the more likely you are depressed and even suicidal. But now the British psychologist Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski, among other things, the same set of data, the aforementioned study by 2017 was based examined.

The data set included surveys, in which hundreds of thousands of young people gave information about how much time they spend with digital media. But they also stated their gender, whether they consume marijuana, whether they get into fights, whether it’s Breakfast, and how often do you eat potatoes, whether or not you suffer from depression, feel lonely, and much more.


wear is worse In the new study, the British psychologists have considered all of these living habits and discovered: Yes, a lot of time on the screen has a negative influence on the mental well-being of young people. But this effect is very small. So small that even Wearing glasses has a negative impact on the Psyche as digital technologies.

Yes, now what?

we Put ourselves in the Situation of a researcher. This wants to understand the influence of digital technologies. Since he believed that this depression trigger, he can’t just put a group of young people ten hours in front of a screen, and then with a control group to compare – that would be unethical. But fortunately, there are the above-mentioned large set of data he can evaluate.

scientists are under pressure

“In the evaluation of such a data set, researchers must meet the end of many decisions,” says Carolin Strobl, statistician at the University of Zurich. For example, if you look at the impact of screen time for boys and girls separately. “Not always, an interesting result comes out at the selected evaluation.” But that’s what the researchers are looking for: “Negative results are, unfortunately, publish, and without publications, the researchers are soon without a Job,” says Strobl.

settings What is the makes Researchers? He goes back, perhaps, and chooses as long as other settings for the analysis, until he discovers an interesting result.

This behavior – also p-hacking is bad scientific practice, but it could explain part of the disagreement in the studies, says Carolin Strobl. But a further Problem was that with so large data sets, even very small effects are statistically significant, which can be interpreted by the reader as “true.” An example: A drug that helps 10 out of 10’000 people, the Placebo helps 5 out of 10’000. This result is statistically significant – a good drug it is not but still.

Make potatoes depressed?

we Leave the perspective of the scientist. We now know: The result is that a lot of time on the screen of the Psyche of young people adversely affected, is only one of many possible outcomes. And, the observed effect is very small.

At the time of their re-analysis, it drove the British researchers aware of on the tip: they analyzed the relationships between all the possible answers of the surveys. Depending on the settings came out, for example, that the screen time is just as negative mental health in the context of how the eating of potatoes. This is obviously absurd. With their approach the authors want to encourage, but aware of the discussion on the Interpretation of psychological studies.

screen time: a Symptom and not a cause

“I think this study is very important,” says the media researcher Sarah Genner of the Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich. Because they also show that correlations need not always be causal. Although depressed adolescents may spend a lot of time with digital technologies. “Excessive use can be more of a Symptom of a deeper psychological problem and not its cause.” Like Smoking Weed or excessive alcohol consumption, excessive use of digital media could also be a strategy to with problems.

Although Genner is to limit the screen time of young people, but only so they didn’t get enough sleep, and other important experiences beyond the screen. “The Central question should not be “How long?”,” says Genner. Much more important is, what is the content of the Teen consume and whether they do this in order to avoid problems out of the way.

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