Background: The widespread use of digital media by young people has generated speculations that their excessive use may have deleterious cognitive effects. Previous studies examining the association between screen time and cognitive deficits in youth have yielded mixed conclusions. We study this association using a nationally representative sample of school going adolescents in the United States. Methods: We queried data from the 2017 and 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. An analytic sample of 17,076 adolescents was analyzed using binary logistic regression. Outcome variable was cognitive difficulties (difficulty in concentrating, remembering, or making decisions), and the explanatory variable was excessive screen-time behaviors. Results: Of the 17,076 adolescents, about one in three (34.1%) had cognitive difficulties, and 45% of adolescents engaged in excessive screen-time behaviors on an average school day. After adjusting for covariates, the odds were 1.28 times higher for adolescents who engaged in excessive screen-time behaviors to report serious cognitive difficulties compared to adolescents who did not engage in excessive screen-time behaviors (AOR = 1.28, p <.001, 95% CI = 1.18–1.40). Conclusion: Study results support the association between excessive screen behaviors and cognitive difficulties in adolescence. Findings of this study are discussed with implications for practice and research.
- Mental health
- Screen time