The presence of screens in bedrooms has negative effects on adolescents

(Montreal) The presence of screens in adolescents’ bedrooms has a negative impact on their academic success and their social relationships, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Montreal (UdeM).

To come to this conclusion, the study, published in February in the journal PSPMCstudied the data of 661 girls and 686 boys aged 12 in 2010, and the data of these same young people at the age of 17, in 2015. The information comes from the Longitudinal Study of Child Development of Quebec .

“Almost half of the respondents had a screen in their room. At that time, it was more fixed screens,” explains Benoit Gauthier, doctoral candidate in applied human sciences at UdeM, who carried out the study.

And this trend is even more present today, when adolescents have access to mobile screens, such as cell phones. Mr. Gauthier indicates that young people from the age of 7 have access to a screen in their room, and therefore, to unlimited content.

“In the case of our study, it was a little less bad at that time, but it was already the start of a trend which has been exacerbated since,” he explains.

“The Internet, video games and everything, it’s a bit of a Wild West at the moment. There is almost no limit set on this. The responsibility falls completely on the parents, and they don’t have enough information to be able to deal with this. »

Several factors explain why the presence of a screen in a teenager’s bedroom can have an impact on their academic success and their relationships with others. First of all, we can take into account the time displaced.

“Screens in the bedroom imply use that is unsupervised, more sedentary, more solitary, more reclusive,” explains Mr. Gauthier.

“Then it will lead to greater use, ultimately. This greater and less supervised use will benefit the time that can be invested in school activities, as well as time away from home to carry out social activities, he continues.

Regarding academic difficulties, the study observes a drop in academic results as well as an increase in the risk of dropping out linked to the presence of a screen in a young person’s room.

Second, when a teenager makes unsupervised use of screens, they view different content than in the common areas of a home, for example, which can result in greater exposure to violent content.

“It has been shown that there are links with a certain desensitization and a propensity for more aggressive behavior, less prosocial behavior such as empathy, such as concern for others,” explains Mr. Gauthier.

The fact that young people have access to idealized or filtered models also has an impact on their social relationships.

“After that, they arrive in the real world, and it doesn’t correspond to what they are exposed to online,” explains the researcher. He indicates that we can take an example from the case of pornography, especially among boys.

“By having screens in their bedroom, they will definitely tend to watch more of them, and then it will affect their ability for privacy. »

Possible solutions

The addictive dimension of screens and peer pressure increase the challenge for parents to control their adolescents’ access to screens, underlines Mr. Gauthier. However, the study allows us to make certain recommendations to limit their negative impact on young people.

The researcher first invites screens to be taken out of adolescents’ rooms. “Screens, at least until late adolescence, should not be in bedrooms, ever,” he says.

Allowing screens only in common areas allows for better regulation of their use, avoiding inappropriate content and opening discussion about items seen online with other members of the family.

Mr. Gauthier also indicates that it is beneficial to create spaces and moments of disconnection. For example, not using screens an hour before bedtime, or banning phones before going to school.

“If a young person spends half an hour, an hour, on their phone or playing video games before going to school, after that, their brain is absolutely not ready for learning. The same logic applies” before it’s time to do homework, explains Mr. Gauthier.


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