In July 2019 researchers from Canada and Australia published the results of their study to measure the association between screen time and depression. Information on social media, television, video gaming and computer use was collected via an annual survey undertaken in a sample of adolescents who entered the 7th grade in 31 schools in Canada. Symptoms of depression, self-esteem and amount of physical exercise was also assessed. Over a four-year period a total of 3,826 adolescents (1,798 girls; average age 12.5 years) were included in the study. Results showed that, in general, symptoms of depression increased each year which was linked to an increase in screen time. For every hour spent using social media, adolescents showed a 0.64 unit increase in symptoms of depression. In addition, each one-hour increase in social media use in any given year was associated with a further 0.41 unit increase in depressive symptoms. A similar association was found for both computer and television usage.
Boers E et al. Association of Screen Time and Depression in Adolescence. JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]