Studies in school suggest that children multitask on various media that are harmful to mental health

Studier i skolen tyder på, at børn multitasking på forskellige medier, der er skadeligt for mental sundhed

Partial Spearman correlation profiles for total media hours (controls for age, gender, and MMI; left panel) and media multitasking (MMI; controls for age, gender, and total media hours; right panel). Credit: Cardoso-Leite et al., 2021, PLOS ET, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

A team of researchers from the University of Luxembourg and the Universite´ de Genève has found evidence to suggest that it is not how much time children spend on electronic media, but how they do it that can lead to problems. The team has written a paper describing a study they conducted at a public elementary school in a suburb of Geneva, Switzerland, and what they learned from it, and has posted it on the website with open access PLOS ET.

Over the last many years, the use of electronic media has increased by both children and adults – both now have access to televisions, computers, tablets, smartphones and video games. Previous efforts to determine the impact of such media use on both adults and children have yielded mixed results. In this new effort, the researchers tried to take a more direct approach to learning more about the subject – they made appointments with officials at a single primary school to engage with the children and those who know them well. To that end, they provided surveys to parents, teachers, and students, asking different questions about the use of electronic media and how it affected the children who used it.

The study focused mainly on the children aged 8 to 12-118 of them, both boys and girls completed questionnaires given to them by the researchers. The questions were designed to learn more about media use and also things like attention problems, sleep quality and quantity, grades, motivation levels, beliefs and mental health in general. The questions for teachers and parents were focused on learning about their perceived perceptions of children’s media use.

Studies in school suggest that children multitask on various media that are harmful to mental health

Partial Spearman correlation profiles of time spent on video games (checks for age, gender, and total hours of media and media multitasking). The three panels show time spent on any type of video game (left panel) or when viewing time separately on action-like (middle panel) and non-action-like video games (right panel). Credit: Cardoso-Leite et al., 2021, PLOS ET, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

After analyzing their data, the researchers found little evidence that media use contributes to mental health problems in children in general – it was only when they tried to mix them up that the problems emerged. Watching TV, for example, while texting with friends on their phone, they found out, could lead to more stress and sometimes behavioral or emotional issues. They also found that the time children spent using the media grew as they got older – at the age of 8, such use came to about four and a half hours a day. At the age of 12, the number grew to over eight. The researchers also found, as expected, that boys spent more time playing video games than girls.


Preschool children’s extensive electronic media use linked to emotional / behavioral problems


More information:
Pedro Cardoso-Leite et al., Media use, awareness, mental health and academic achievement among 8 to 12 year old children, PLOS ET (2021). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0259163

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Citation: Study in school suggests that children multitasking on various media that are harmful to mental health (2021, November 25) retrieved November 25, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-in-school -children-multitasking-media- mental.html

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