EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For years, many experts claimed that if teens spend too much time on phones, video games, and social media it could have a negative impact on their daily life.
New research from MSU reveals that may no longer be the case.
MSU professor Keith Hampton said parents shouldn’t worry about screen time, but what they should worry about is if their teens are disconnected from today’s technologies, which he said can lead to problems.
“What we found is that time online, the amount of time you spend playing social media or playing video games tends to have a small impact on kid’s self-esteem, compared to having a parent who overly controls how much time they have online,” Hampton said.
The survey took a look at more than 3,000 kids who live in rural parts of Michigan. It focused on self-esteem and revealed that teens with more screen time reported having higher self-esteem compared to those who were disconnected.
“And that may be disconnection due to no wires on the ground, which is more common in rural areas, or disconnection simply because you can’t afford the technology or the latest devices. Those do have negative implications for self-esteem and that might include lower socio-economic communities as well as rural communities,” Hampton said.
Hampton said that video games and the time spent on social media are built into every aspect of what teens do these days. He said it is now common in youth culture and how teens socialize and entertain each other.
“Forcing kids to be removed from that is probably more harmful for their mental health and self-esteem than the risk associated with using those technologies. Self-esteem as far as we’re concerned deals with how kids feel about their relationship with their peers, their body image, their relationship with family, their relationship to their school,” Professor Hampton said.
Hampton said that overall, families should focus on teaching their teens how to develop critical media skills to avoid harmful online content and should actually allow them to have more control over their media use.
“Focusing less on the amount of time that they spend online and more on what they’re doing online is important,” he said.