A new study recently published by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found a link between the time teenagers spend staring at their TV or computer monitor and their difficulty in forming meaningful relationships with their parents and friends.
The study found that every hour of TV watched increased the teen’s likelihood of detachment from friends and family 4% and each hour of Internet increased it 5%. That means, for example, that if you’re 16 and watch 4 episodes of 24 after school, you’re 20% more likely not to like hanging out with your parents.
The publishers of the study also assessed interview responses from 976 individuals who were age 15 years in 1987 to 1988. Among these teens, more time spent viewing television was associated with lower attachment to both parents and peers. For every additional hour of television, teens had a 13 percent increased risk of low attachment to their parents and a 24 percent increased risk of low attachment to peers. “Recommendations that children watch less television are sometimes met with the concern that being unable to discuss popular shows or characters may inhibit peer relationships,” the authors write. “The findings herein do not suggest that less television viewing is detrimental to adolescent friendships.”
There are several potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between increased screen time and poorer relationships, they note. For instance, teens who have televisions in their bedroom not only spent more time watching but also may share fewer meals with family members. “However, 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,” the authors write.
So it’s true, being glued to screens deprives kids of all those emotions that aren’t represented with emoticons. Thankfully, in the intervening months since this study was completed, Chatroulette has come and totally renewed young people’s interest in interacting with other human beings.