Young Adolescents’ Digital Technology Use and Mental Health Symptoms: Little Evidence of Longitudinal or Daily Linkages

Michaeline Jensen, Madeleine J. George, Michael R. Russell, Candice L. Odgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines whether 388 adolescents’ digital technology use is associated with mental-health symptoms during early adolescence to midadolescence. Adolescents completed an initial Time 1 (T1) assessment in 2015, followed by a 14-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) via mobile phone in 2016–2017 that yielded 13,017 total observations over 5,270 study days. Adolescents’ T1 technology use did not predict later mental-health symptoms. Adolescents’ reported mental health was also not worse on days when they reported spending more versus less time on technology. Little was found to support daily quadratic associations (whereby adolescent mental health was worse on days with little or excessive use). Adolescents at higher risk for mental-health problems also exhibited no signs of increased risk for mental-health problems on higher technology use days. Findings from this EMA study do not support the narrative that young adolescents’ digital technology usage is associated with elevated mental-health symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1416-1433
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

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