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Research shows that teens who spend more time in extracurricular activities and less screen time have better mental health.

Teenagers – especially girls – spend more time on extracurricular activities and less than two hours using a screen after school have better mental health, according to a study from the University British Columbia and published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Research shows that both factors are associated with lower levels of satisfaction and optimism in life as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression. The longer device use time is especially harmful for girls, the study found, as researchers found a “significantly more pronounced” relationship between longer device use and health. mentally inferior, research says.

But it’s unhealthy for both sexes: Device time beyond the recommended limit of two hours is still significantly associated with satisfaction and optimism in boys and girls, the study said. said.

“Although we conducted this study prior to the COVID-1
9 pandemic, these findings are particularly relevant nowadays as teenagers are able to spend more time in front of screens in their spare time. Access to extracurricular activities, such as sports and arts programs is limited by COVID -19, ”said Eva Oberle, lead author of the study, in a newsletter.
Under the shadow of Covid-19, mental health assistance cannot come anytime soon

Oberle also notes that due to the pandemic, finding extracurricular activities is not as easy as it used to be. Still, finding something safe for teenagers is still important, she said.

“Our findings highlight extracurricular activities as an asset to the mental health of adolescents,” she said. “Finding safe ways for children and young people to continue to participate in these activities for the time being can be one way to reduce device time and increase mental health and well-being. “

Teen collectives spend more time on screen

The study used self-reported data from more than 28,000 7th graders from 2014 to 2018 – taken from 27 school districts in British Columbia.

The students responded to questions about their use of device time after school, including time they watched TV, Netflix, YouTube, stream video or something else, and they did. how much time do you spend playing video games or computer games?

Students then report how many days they have been involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, music or the arts.

To assess mental health, the researchers asked students to rate indicators like “I started most of the day and thought I would have a good day” on a scale of “disagree”. to “agree a lot.”

Some results have been expected, the researchers said in the study. For example, students who do not have extracurricular activities tend to use more equipment. And they expect girls to score higher on negative mental health indicators, as previous research has found that they tend to have higher levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety. compared with boys.

Coronavirus forces parents to change their time plan for device use

It is remarkable that even among students who participated in extracurricular activities, 46% exceeded the recommended device use time of two hours, the researchers said, a limit due to The Canadian Pediatric Association launched. At the same time, 67% of students not participating in extracurricular activities also exceed two hours of screen use. Together, this indicates high device usage time among teenagers in general.

“This is in line with research showing an increase in screen use among teenagers over the past decade, suggesting that screen time is the most important factor today for use. leisure time for teenagers “.

Extracurricular activities are still the key to better mental health

However, extracurricular activities are still significantly associated with higher levels of optimism and life satisfaction – a trend that occurs across genders and does not depend on time spent using the device. said rescue.

“This finding confirms our hypothesis and is in line with previous research and emphasizes that extracurricular activities are an asset for adolescence,” the study says. “While previous studies have emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities for social, emotional and learning development, current research emphasizes their importance to outcomes. positive mental health. “

This finding was made when thousands more children and adolescents were at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, which limited opportunities for face-to-face communication and made extracurricular activities scarce. rare. As adolescents cope with the public health crisis, studies have shown broader trends in post-traumatic depression, anxiety, and stress disorder.

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