Study: A love-hate relationship with screens

At the height of the pandemic in 2021, Montreal teenagers had to turn to electronic devices so much that 40% of them were downright sick of them, according to a new study.

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“Young people may have used screens for lack of anything better because they couldn’t do as many things as they would have liked,” says Jean-François Biron, researcher at the regional directorate of public health in Montreal.

Indeed, those who have increased several types of screen use during the pandemic are significantly more “tanned” of screens, the report shows. Perspectives on the use of screens among Montreal adolescents in the context of a pandemicunveiled today.

Jean-François Biron, Michel Fournier and Pierre H. Tremblay, from the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, interviewed 725 teenagers aged 13 to 17 in April and May 2021 to find out about their habits digital.

Tired young people

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According to their results, 45% of respondents have lost sleep due to their use of screens and 37% admit that they have harmed their school performance.

In addition, 39% say they are sometimes or often sick of screens. “It is not the intensive users who are the most tanned […] Rather, it is the individuals whose increase is contextual,” the researchers write.

Indeed, in the spring of 2021, the curfew was in effect, social contacts were restricted to the family bubble and a large part of school education was carried out remotely.

In this context, seven out of ten young people say they have increased their screen time, in particular because of online videos, social media and video games.

Boys are more likely to have increased their use of video games, while girls have increased their use of social media more.


Not counting the time allocated to school, 27% of young Montrealers spent at least five hours a day in front of a screen. On weekends, this proportion increased to 44%.

“Intensive use is significantly associated with […] lower school results and lower morale,” the authors state.

“There is a chance that the proportion of young heavy users will decrease [dans le futur]. But the question is to know to what extent there are automatisms and habits that will have taken root,” asks Mr. Biron, in an interview with The newspaper.


Maintain relationships 76%

New learnings 70%

Surroundings worried 50%

Sleep loss 45%

Tanned 39%

Harm to school results 37%

Source: Montreal Regional Public Health Department 2021 Teenagers and Screens Study

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