A new, long-term study by the U.S. Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that teenagers who get over 5 hours per day of exposure to electronic media including television, radio and video games have an increased risk of depression in later life.

The study recorded the daily media exposure of more than 4,000 adolescents starting in 1995, before DVD technology and the Internet were commonplace. That test sample averages 5.68 hours a day of media exposure.

When revisited seven years later, over seven per cent of the test subjects had developed ‘symptoms consistent with depression’. That’s significantly higher than the overall North American depression rate for their age group.

In their article this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal, the survey team noted:

…participants had significantly greater odds of developing depression… In addition, those reporting higher total media exposure had significantly greater odds of developing depression for each additional hour of daily use.

Researchers noted that constant exposure to stressful media messages may ‘enourage aggression, inspire fear or anxiety and hamper identity development’.  They also postulated that time spent on media activities can impact sleep and eat into ‘face time’ teens might otherwise spend with friends in real-world activities.

One bright note: Young women were observed to be less likely to develop symptoms of depression than young men when exposed to the same amounts of media exposure.

Bottom line: Ditch the fantasy games, guys, and go shoot some real hoops with your buddies!

Leave a Reply