Screen Use and Depressive Symptoms among Adolescents in Sweden

Li Ma , Centre for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Karlstad University
Brittany Evans, Karlstad University
Annette Kleppang, Department of Public Health and Sport Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Curt Hagquist, Centre for Research on Children’s and Adolescent’s Mental Health, Karlstads University

How screen use is associated with adolescents’ mental health has been debated in the public media in Sweden in recent years. The purpose of this study was to examine how time spent on four types of screen use (social media, gaming alone, gaming in groups and watching TV) was associated with depressive symptoms among adolescents in Sweden. We analyzed data from the Swedish section of the Children of Immigrants: Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries. The final sample consisted of 3,186 eighth grade adolescents in 2011 (51% girls). We used logistic regression analysis to predict the odds of feeling depressed often versus less often/not at all using time spent on the different types of screen use as predictor variables. We investigated this first in the total sample and then in boys and girls separately. Our results showed that spending two hours or more of a typical school day on social media or gaming alone was associated with higher odds of feeling depressed often compared to spending less than two hours on these activities, particularly among girls. Gaming in groups was associated with depressive symptoms differently for boys and girls. Among both boys and girls, not watching TV was associated with higher odds of feeling depressed often compared to watching TV. Our findings suggest that the association between screen use and depressive symptoms may depend on the type of screen use and the amount of time spent on screen use. These associations varied by gender.

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 Presented in Session 83. Health and Wellbeing in a Digital World