CONNECT
search advanced search
UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
search menu

HOW DOES THE TIME CHILDREN SPEND USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPACT THEIR MENTAL WELL-BEING, SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY? AN EVIDENCE-FOCUSED LITERATURE REVIEW

HOW DOES THE TIME CHILDREN SPEND USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPACT THEIR MENTAL WELL-BEING, SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY? AN EVIDENCE-FOCUSED LITERATURE REVIEW

Publication date: 2017-02

Publication series:
Innocenti Discussion Papers

No. of pages: 35

Download the report

(PDF, 0.57 MB)

Abstract

Based on an evidence-focused literature review, the first part of this paper examines existing knowledge on how the time children spend using digital technology impacts their well-being across three dimensions; mental/psychological, social and physical. The evidence reviewed here is largely inconclusive with respect to impact on children’s physical activity, but indicates that digital technology seems to be beneficial for children’s social relationships. In terms of impact on children’s mental well-being, the most robust studies suggest that the relationship is U-shaped, where no use and excessive use can have a small negative impact on mental well-being, while moderate use can have a small positive impact. In the second part of the paper, the hypothetical idea of addiction to technology is introduced and scrutinized. This is followed by an overview of the hypothetical idea that digital technology might re-wire or hijack children’s brains; an assumption that is challenged by recent neuroscience evidence. In conclusion, considerable methodological limitations exist across the spectrum of research on the impact of digital technology on child well-being, including the majority of the studies on time use reviewed here, and those studies concerned with clinical or brain impacts. This prompts reconsideration of how research in this area is conducted. Finally, recommendations for strengthening research practices are offered.
Available in:
English

Related Innocenti Project(s):

MORE IN THIS SERIES: Innocenti Discussion Papers

COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South
Publication Publication

COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South

This paper aims to document the likely direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in developed and developing countries. It also aims to identify potential urgent measures to alleviate such impacts on children. Thirty-three years after the UNICEF report, 'Adjustment with a Human Face', the authors warn of the effects of the pandemic which are likely to be considerable and comparable to the recession and debt crisis of the 1980s. The heavy costs for children can only be avoided with systematic and concerted efforts on the part of governments and the international community, to provide extensive financial and social support for the poor, and to invest in the health and education systems, in order to offset the negative impact of the virus-induced recession.
Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Publication Publication

Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper identifies key ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation involving children during the mitigation stage of the pandemic (emergency phase), on subject matter relating to COVID-19 once the pandemic has been contained, and once containment policy measures, including lockdowns, have been lifted (post-emergency phase). While the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis, with evidence generation activities raising critical ethical issues that have been captured in the literature and relevant guidelines, there are specificities relating to this emergency that must be considered when unpacking potential ethical issues. Hence while ethical issues pertaining to evidence generation involving children in emergencies and humanitarian contexts are relevant and should be considered, there are factors that define this ‘special case’ that must be considered from the outset. These will inform the core ethical considerations that need to be addressed.
Towards a Child Rights-based Assessment Tool to Evaluate National Responses to Migrant and Refugee Children
Publication Publication

Towards a Child Rights-based Assessment Tool to Evaluate National Responses to Migrant and Refugee Children

This paper examines a range of tools, guidelines and formats available to monitor and evaluate various aspects of national responses to migrant children and argues for the need to integrate them into a single coherent, child focused, rights-based framework. Their current disparate application leaves gaps in the child’s protective environment and is not consistent with a holistic, child rights-based approach. Building on an analytical framework adopted by the Council of Europe in March 2018 to support a child-rights based approach by local and regional authorities to migrant and asylum-seeking children, the paper puts forward for consideration an integrated evaluation framework that incorporates and links existing practice models in order to ensure quality child-centred monitoring at each and every stage of the migration process.
The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners
Publication Publication

The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners

This short paper grew out of discussions at a two-day research workshop focused on famines and adolescents. It explores some of what we do and do not know about the impacts of humanitarian situations on adolescents’ lives. Adolescents and their specific capacities and vulnerabilities have tended to be overlooked in the design and implementation of humanitarian responses, including in social protection and further components of such responses. This paper seeks to bring these questions to the attention of researchers, policy makers and practitioners in order to address identified priority gaps; build on existing knowledge; invest in better evidence generation; and include adolescents in research and response efforts in meaningful ways. Such improvements to humanitarian responses would assist in developing more inclusive efforts that consider all ages in the child’s life-course; aim for more sustainable well-being outcomes and help meet core commitments to children in these settings.

MORE IN THEMATIC AREAS: Child well-being

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 1: Every child survives and thrives
Publication Publication

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 1: Every child survives and thrives

This research brief is one of a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.
Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 2: Every child learns
Publication Publication

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 2: Every child learns

This research brief is one of a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.
Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 3: Every child is protected from violence and exploitation
Publication Publication

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 3: Every child is protected from violence and exploitation

This research brief is one of a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.
Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief Unicef Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 4: Every child lives in a safe and clean environment
Publication Publication

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief Unicef Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 4: Every child lives in a safe and clean environment

This research brief is one of a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.