*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Walking away from TV, laptops, and cellphones and spending more time in sports and other extracurricular activities boost teens’ mental health, Canadian researchers say.
Spending less than two hours a day browsing the internet, playing video games, and using social media was linked to increased levels of life satisfaction and optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depression, especially among girls, the study found.
“Although we conducted this study before the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings are especially relevant now when teens may be spending more time in front of screens in their free time if access to extracurricular activities, like sports and arts programs, is restricted due to COVID-19,” said lead author Eva Oberle, an assistant professor with the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
For the study, the researchers surveyed nearly 29,000 seventh-graders.
They found that:
- Teens who took part in extracurricular activities were less likely to engage in screen-based activities for two or more hours after school.
- More than two hours a day of screen time was linked with lower levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
- Longer screen time negatively affected girls’ mental health more than boys’.
The findings were recently published in the journal Preventive Medicine.