In January 2019 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess whether television viewing and computer/video game usage had any effect on major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and social phobia symptoms and, in addition, assessed whether physical activity reduced any associations. A total 2,525 adolescents, average age 15 years, were involved in the study. Information was collected via two surveys, one at the start of the study with the second 12 months later: television viewing and computer/video game use (over 4 hours/day; yes/no), physical activity (over 60 minutes/day for 5+ days/week). Results showed that adolescents with symptoms of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety were more likely to have high computer/video game usage, whilst social phobia was only marginally related to increased usage. However, the association between generalised anxiety and social phobia symptoms was reduced amongst physically active adolescents. Television viewing appeared to be unrelated to all four emotional disorder symptoms and panic disorder was not associated with any screen-based sedentary behaviour. The researchers therefore concluded that reducing computer/video game usage and increasing physical activity may improve adolescent emotional health.
Zink J et al. Reciprocal associations between screen time and emotional disorder symptoms during adolescence. Prev Med Rep. 2019 Jan 25;13:281-288.