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McGill Study: Screen Time and Youth Psychosis


A recent study by McGill University researchers reveals that extended exposure to video games and social media throughout adolescence may be connected to an increased risk of experiencing psychotic episodes later in life. The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and examined data from 1,226 individuals born between 1997 and 1998.

The objective of the study

The use of social media and video games by adolescents is thought to influence their mental health. However, its association with psychotic experiences (PEs) is not clear. The objective of the study was to examine the trajectories of media use by adolescents and their link with psychosis.

The setting of the study

The research used questions to detect experiences such as feeling persecuted, having odd thoughts, and hallucinating, among others. The participants belonged to Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998-2021). The Data was analyzed from 2023 January till 2024 January. The weekly amount of watching television, using a computer, reading, and gaming was reported by the participants at the ages 12, 13, 15, and 17.

The outcome of the study

According to the findings, a trajectory of increased video gaming and computer use during adolescence correlated with heightened levels of psychotic experiences by age 23. Specifically, playing video games more frequently during adolescence was associated with a 3-7% increase in psychotic experiences.

However, the researchers emphasized that the technology itself should not be solely blamed. They suggested that a child’s addiction to these devices could serve as a warning sign of preexisting vulnerability to mental illness. Factors such as parental mental health, loneliness, bullying, and parent-child relational issues were identified as shared risk factors between excessive media use and mental health problems.

Additionally, abruptly restricting screen time for youngsters may not be beneficial and could potentially exacerbate the situation, the researchers cautioned.

The study’s authors hope that their findings will aid psychologists in understanding why teenagers develop psychotic experiences and in devising effective strategies to support them.

Source: Inputs from various media Sources

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Priya Bairagi

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