search advanced search
UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
search menu
Innocenti experts produce high quality research that is frequently published in international peer reviewed journals. The themes of publications featured here reflect the entire spectrum of issues shaping global policies and outcomes for children.


Contextualising the link between adolescents’ use of digital technology and their mental health: a multi‐country study of time spent online and life satisfaction


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.



91 items found

Income transfers, early marriage and fertility in Malawi and Zambia

Fidelia Dake, Luisa Natali, G. Angeles, Jacobus de Hoop, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman
Studies in Family Planning, November 2018


Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Implications for Program Design

Ana C. Dammert, Jacobus de Hoop, Eric Mvukiyehe, Furio Camillo Rosati
World Development, October 2018, vol. 110, pp. 104-123.


Mythbusting: confronting six common perceptions about cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa

Sudhanshu Handa, Silvio Daidone, Amber Peterman, Benjamin Davis, Audrey Pereira, Tia Palermo, Jennifer Yablonski
World Bank Research Observer , October 2018, vol. 33 (2), pp. 259-298.


A mixed-method review of Intimate partner violence and cash transfers in low- and middle-income countries

A.M. Buller, Amber Peterman, M. Raganathan, A. Bleile, M. Hidrobo, L. Heise
World Bank Research Observer , September 2018, vol. 33 (2), pp. 218-258.


WASH and Nutrition Synergies: The Case of Tunisia

Jose Cuesta, L. Maratou-Kolias
Journal of Development Studies, Published online on 19 September 2018, September 2018


Can unconditional cash transfers raise long-term living standards? Evidence from Zambia

Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo, Benjamin Davis
Journal of Development Economics, July 2018, vol. 133, pp. 42-65.


Children’s Roles in Social Reproduction: reexamining the discourse on care through a child lens

Elena Camilletti, Prerna Banati, Sarah Cook
The Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development, June 2018 (21), pp. 33-48.


Examination of performance of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Short Form 10 among African youth in poor, rural households

Kelly Kilburn, Leah Prencipe, Lisa Hjelm, Amber Peterman, Sudhanshu Handa, Tia Palermo
BMC Psychiatry, June 2018, vol. 18 (201)


91 items found