Teens with more screen time have poorer relationships

2 April 2010

Teenagers who spend a lot of time watching television or using computers have poorer inter-personal relationships, research confirms (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2010; 164: 258-62).

The researchers studied 3043 adolescents aged 14-15, who completed a questionnaire about their screen-time habits and a relationship assessment.

The risk of ‘low attachment’ to parents increased by 4 per cent for every hour spent watching TV and 5 per cent for every hour spent in front of a computer. In contrast, teens who spent more time reading or doing homework had a better relationship with their parents.

An even more pronounced relationship between TV viewing and interpersonal relationships came from their re-analysis of 976 teens interviewed in 1987 and 1988.

In this group, every additional viewing hour led to a 13 per cent increased risk of low attachment to parents and a 24 per cent greater risk of low attachment to peers.

“Recommendations that children watch less television are sometimes met with the concern that being unable to discuss popular shows or characters may inhibit peer relationships,” the authors said.

“The findings herein do not suggest that less television viewing is detrimental to adolescent friendships.”

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