A teen’s ability to attach to their parents and friends may be affected by the amount of time they spend in front of a screen.
A new study examining the relationship between screen time (television, video, DVDs, gaming or computer use) and parental attachment found the risk of having low attachment to parents increased by 4 per cent for every hour spent watching television and 5 per cent for every hour spent at a computer. Predictably, teens who spent more time doing homework or reading were more attached to their parents.
The study of teens aged 14 and 15, conducted by researchers at the University of Otego in Dunedin New Zealand, asked teenagers to comment on how they spent their free time and what their relationships were like. Researchers found that for every additional hour of TV they watched, teens had a 13% increased risk of low attachment to their parents.
“Given the importance of attachment to parents and peers in adolescent health and development, concern about high levels of screen time among adolescents is warranted,” the researchers concluded.
“With the rapid advance of screen-based options for entertainment, communication, and education, ongoing research is needed to monitor the effect that these technologies have on social development and psychological and physical well-being among adolescents.”
The study’s authors said there are a number of possible reasons why too much screen time may affect teens’ relationships with family. For example, teens that have TVs in their bedroom may share fewer meals with their family.
“It is also possible that adolescents with poor attachment relationships with immediate friends and family use screen-based activities to facilitate new attachment figures such as online friendships or parasocial relationships with television characters or personalities,” study author Rosalina Richards wrote.
Not surprising, teens that spent more time reading and doing homework reported a higher level of attachment to their parents.