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Daniel Kardefelt Winther, Gwyther Rees, Sonia Livingstone
Evidence on whether the amount of time children spend online affects their mental health is mixed. There may be both benefits and risks. Yet, almost all published research on this topic is from high‐income countries. This paper presents new findings across four countries of varying wealth.
We analyse data gathered through the Global Kids Online project from nationally representative samples of Internet‐using children aged 9 to 17 years in Bulgaria (n = 1,000), Chile (n = 1,000), Ghana (n = 2,060) and the Philippines (n = 1,873). Data was gathered on Internet usage on week and weekend days. Measures of absolute (comparable across countries) and relative (compared to other children within countries) time use were constructed. Mental health was measured by Cantril’s ladder (life satisfaction). The analysis also considers the relative explanatory power on variations in mental health of children’s relationships with family and friends. Analysis controlled for age, gender and family socioeconomic status.
In Bulgaria and Chile, higher‐frequency Internet use is weakly associated with lower life satisfaction. In Ghana and the Philippines, no such pattern was observed. There was no evidence that the relationship between frequency of Internet use and life satisfaction differed by gender. In all four countries, the quality of children’s close relationships showed a much stronger relationship with their life satisfaction than did time spent on the Internet.
Time spent on the Internet does not appear to be strongly linked to children’s life satisfaction, and results from one country should not be assumed to transfer to another. Improving the quality of children’s close relationships offers a more fruitful area for intervention than restricting their time online. Future research could consider a wider range of countries and links between the nature, rather than quantity, of Internet usage and mental health.
Susannah Zietz, Jacobus de Hoop, Sudhanshu Handa
Yekaterina Chzhen, Lucia Ferrone
Jacobus de Hoop, Patrick Premand, Furio Rosati, Renos Vakis
Sudhanshu Handa, D. Seidenfeld, B. David, G. Tembo, Zambia Evaluation Cash Transfer Team
Accumulated evidence from dozens of cash transfer (CT) programs across the world suggests that there are few interventions that can match the range of impacts and cost-effectiveness of a small, predictable monetary transfer to poor families in developing countries. However, individual published impact assessments typically focus on only one program and one outcome. This article presents two-year impacts of the Zambian Government's Child Grant, an unconditional CT to families with children under age 5, across a wide range of domains including consumption, productive activity, and women and children's outcomes, making this one of the first studies to assess both protective and productive impacts of a national unconditional CT program. We show strong impacts on consumption, food security, savings, and productive activity. However, impacts in areas such as child nutritional status and schooling depend on initial conditions of the household, suggesting that cash alone is not enough to solve all constraints faced by these poor, rural households. Nevertheless, the apparent transformative effects of this program suggest that unconditional transfers in very poor settings can contribute to both protection and development outcomes.