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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

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