Skip to Content
Tech policy

Parents, avert your eyes: screens aren’t as bad for kids as you think

January 14, 2019

We all know screens are bad for teens—or so we thought. A new study claims screen time isn’t strongly linked to depression, suicide, or anything else.

The research: A study published today Nature Human Behavior had a look at surveys taken by more than 355,000 teens and found that screen use is associated with some ill effects, but they’re too small to worry about. Screen use explained less than 1% of the difference in teens’ well-being. Whether they got enough sleep made a much bigger difference.

Others agree: The British Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also said last week said there was no proof that screens are “toxic” to health, according to the BBC.

The problem: So how come we hear all the time that screens are bad? Call it a statistical artifact, and possibly an intentional one. There are so many ways to interpret survey data, says Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute and coauthor of the new study, that researchers can find just about whatever they want in it. “Researchers will essentially torture the data until it gives them a statistically significant result that they can publish,” he told Wired

Deep Dive

Tech policy

2022’s seismic shift in US tech policy will change how we innovate

Three bills investing hundreds of billions into technological development could change the way we think about government’s role in growing prosperity.

Mass-market military drones: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Turkish-made aircraft like the TB2 have dramatically expanded the role of drones in warfare.

We’re witnessing the brain death of Twitter

An analysis of Musk’s tweets shows him at the center of conversations once kept on the fringes of Twitter.

Abortion pills via telemedicine: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Medication abortion has become increasingly common, but the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade brought a new sense of urgency.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.