Children who spend a lot of time plugged into personal technology -- on cell phones, social media sites, playing video games and using multimedia audio/video devices – are more likely to say they are less happy than peers who spend less time in front of a screen.
That’s the provocative conclusion of a new study from Stanford University that tracked the levels of contentment, emotional development and social distress among young girls.
The peer-reviewed study tracked the online habits of North American girls ages 8 to 12. Researchers found those who said they spend considerable amounts of time using multimedia described themselves as less happy and less socially comfortable than their less-plugged-in peers.
Researchers said it was unclear whether the heavy use of multimedia was the cause for the relative unhappiness or whether unhappy girls are more likely to over-indulge in electronic media as an escape from their stressful real lives.
Ironically perhaps, the research was based on an online survey taken by more than 3,400 girls.
The study was published in Developmental Psychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association, as part of a series on interactive technology and human development.