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

An empirical exploration of female child marriage determinants in Indonesia

Lauren Rumble, Amber Peterman, Nadira Irdiana, Margaret Triyana, Emilie Minnick
BMC Public Health, March 2018


The Role of Productive Activities in the Lives of Adolescents: Photovoice Evidence from Malawi

Susannah Zietz, Jacobus de Hoop, Sudhanshu Handa
Children and Youth Services Review, February 2018, vol. 86, pp. 246-255.

Children, HIV, emergencies and Sustainable Development Goals: roadblocks ahead and possible solutions

Dick Chamla, Chewe Luo, Priscilla Idele
JIAS - Journal of the International AIDS Society, February 2018


Who perpetrates violence against children? A systematic analysis of age- and sex-specific data

K. Devries, L. Knight, M Petzold, L. Maxwell, A. Williams, Claudia Cappa, E. Chan, C. Garcia-Moreno, H. Hollis, H. Kress, Amber Peterman, S.D. Walsh, A. Guedes, S. Kishor, S. Bott, B. Butron, C. Watts, N. Abrahams
BMJ Paediatrics Open , February 2018, vol. 2


International trends in ‘bottom-end’inequality in adolescent physical activity and nutrition: HBSC study 2002–2014

Yekaterina Chzhen, Irene Moor, William Pickett, Emilia Toczydlowska, Gonneke W J M Stevens
European Journal of Public Health, 2018


Does money buy happiness? Evidence from an unconditional cash transfer in Zambia

Luisa Natali, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo
SSM - Population Health, 2018


Poverty, Disputes and Access to Justice in Conflict Affected Areas of Indonesia

Jose Cuesta, E. Skoufias, L. Madrigal
Journal of Economic Policy Reform, 2018, vol. 21 (1), pp. 21-38.


Tackling Income Inequality: What Works and Why?

Jose Cuesta, Mario Negre, Ana Revenga, Maika Schmidt
Journal of Income Distribution, 2018, vol. 26 (1)


91 items found