According to a study of more than 700 adolescents in Peru during the strictest COVID-19 confinement in the South American country, in spring 2020, when it comes to screen time, the problem is not so much the number of hours they spend online but the quality of your online interactions .
In general, the adolescents in the study who found support online, such as chatting with friends and family through WhatsApp or joining online multiplayer video games.
Better quality than quantity
The study was launched in April 2020, when Peru entered strict confinement for COVID-19. Only one family member at a time was allowed to go out to run approved errands, and most of the teens were isolated inside their homes .
For six weeks, the researchers surveyed thousands of students between the ages of 11 and 17 to understand their online behaviors and relationships in conditions of social isolation and to assess how these factors were related to their moods and their sense of belonging. Data from 735 of the supervised students were ultimately used for the study.
On a scale from 1 (never) to 5 (frequently), students rated the extent to which they agreed with statements such as "I feel valued by people on my social networks", "People on my social networks give me advice "," People on my social networks make me feel like I don’t belong "and" People on my social networks treat me badly ".
They also completed separate questionnaires about what electronic devices they used, their social media preferences, their levels of loneliness, and their general well-being.
For most students, smartphones were the preferred device for connecting to non-educational online activities , followed by laptops and then video game consoles.
For girls, social media, messaging apps, and YouTube videos were the most popular online hobbies. For children, the most popular online activities were playing video games and watching videos.
In terms of their mental health perspective, students reported more positive than negative online interactions, especially with regards to discussing problems and getting helpful feedback via WhatsApp.