Research by Oxford University academics has found little evidence of a relationship between screen time and well-being in adolescents. Based on data from more than 17,000 teenagers, the study casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that spending time online, gaming or watching TV, especially before bedtime, can damage young people’s mental health.
“Implementing best practice statistical and methodological techniques we found little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital-screen engagement and adolescent well-being,” said Amy Orben, a Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and College Lecturer at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford.
“While psychological science can be a powerful tool for understanding the link between screen use and adolescent well-being, it still routinely fails to supply stakeholders and the public with high-quality, transparent and objective investigations into growing concerns about digital technologies. Analysing three different datasets, which include improved measurements of screen time, we found little clear-cut evidence that screen time decreases adolescent well-being, even if the use of digital technology occurs directly before bedtime,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the OII and co-author on the study.
The research found that adolescents’ total screen time per day had little impact on their mental health, both on weekends and weekdays. It also found that the use of digital screens two hours, one hour or 30 minutes before bedtime didn’t have clear associations with decreases in adolescent well-being, even though this is often taken as a fact by media reports and public debates.
Unlike other studies, the Oxford research analysed data from Ireland, the US and the UK to support its conclusions. The researchers used a more rigorous methodology to gather how much time an adolescent spends on screens per day, including both self-reported measures and time-use diaries. This is important as many studies investigating adolescent digital technology use are unreliable: they are based solely on self-reported digital technology use even though recent work found only one third of participants give accurate accounts of how much time they spend online when asked after the fact. Additionally, the study used preregistration, an approach that ensured scientific rigour by requiring the researchers to provide detail of how they were going to analyse the data before it was released. This prevents hypothesising after the results are known, a challenge for controversial research topics.
“Because technologies are embedded in our social and professional lives, research concerning digital-screen use and its effects on adolescent well-being is under increasing scrutiny,” said Orben. “To retain influence and trust, robust and transparent research practices will need to become the norm—not the exception. We hope our approach will set a new baseline for new research on the psychological study of technology” added Przybylski.
The insights come days ahead of the anticipated release of the UK government’s new White Paper on Online Harms, which is expected to set out plans for legislation governing social media companies. This new study builds on previous work by Orben and Przybylski that used novel and transparent statistical approaches to show that technology use explains at most 0.4% of adolescent wellbeing. The study, published at the beginning of this year in Nature Human Behaviour, made headlines with the finding that wearing glasses had a more negative association with adolescent well-being than ‘screen time’.
The study used data from Ireland, the US and the UK. In Ireland, it covered 5,363 young people tracked under the Growing Up in Ireland project. In the US, the data covered 709 subjects of a variety of ages compiled by the United States Panel Study of Income Dynamics. And in the UK, the dataset included responses from 11,884 adolescents and their caregivers surveyed as part of the Millennium Cohort Study.
The full study, ‘Screens, Teens, and Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From Three Time-Use-Diary Studies,’ can be read as fully open access article in the journal Psychological Science.
Gaming gets rad at Rand Show
With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.
A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and science displays.
The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):
There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.
Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament.
“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”
Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.
Fortnite Inspired Dance Off
Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.
Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.
The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.
Games, Games and Science
For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.
The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.
But wait, there’s more
Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.
Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.
With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.
In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.
Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for two hours.
The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.
Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play
Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.
As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L
Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers.
“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package.
“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”
Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.
Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”
Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.
“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head. It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”
To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (www.videoplay.co.za).