Less screen time and more leisure activities for the teenage psyche – healing practice

Extracurricular activities to protect the psyche?

After-school activities such as sports and the arts have been linked to improved mental health in teenagers when they spend less time in front of tablets, phones, and computers.

Activities such as sports and arts combined with less time in front of the screen of technical devices have a positive effect on the psyche of adolescents, according to a study by researchers from the University of British Columbia. The study was published in the English-language journal “Preventive Medicine” released.

How can teenagers improve their wellbeing?

When teenagers spend two hours less per day in front of cell phones and tablets, surfing the internet or using social media, for example, this is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. In addition, participation in after-school activities was also associated with better mental health outcomes. Girls seem to benefit more than boys.

Results particularly relevant in times of COVID-19

“Although we conducted this study before the COVID-19 pandemic, the results are particularly relevant now as teenagers may spend more time in front of the screen in their free time with access to after-school activities such as sports and arts programs due to COVID- 19 is restricted, ”emphasizes study author Eva Oberle from the University of British Columbia in one Press release.

Enable participation in after-school activities

The results show that after-school activities are an asset to the psychological well-being of teenagers. Finding safe ways for children and adolescents to continue participating in these activities today could be an effective way to promote mental health and wellbeing.

The data for the study comes from a population-level survey of a total of 28,712 grade 7 students. The researchers analyzed the time spent in front of screens and also took into account participation in extracurricular activities such as sports and art programs after school. They checked possible associations with positive and negative mental health indicators.

More activity, less screen time?

It found that teenagers doing extracurricular activities were significantly less likely to spend two or more hours in front of the screen after school. Participation in extracurricular activities was also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism, as well as with lower levels of Angst and depressive symptoms.

Long screen times had a negative effect

In contrast, longer screen time (more than two hours per day) was associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, the team reports.

Girls were more affected

The effects differed between boys and girls, with longer screen time affecting girls’ mental health more than boys. Both boys and girls were at their best mental health when they participated in extracurricular activities and spent less than two hours a day in front of the screen.

More research is needed

The experts stress that more research is now needed to determine why the negative effects were greater in girls than in boys. The team hopes that future research will also focus on the effects of different types of time spent in front of the screen. It is known that time spent in front of the screen can also be beneficial, such as maintaining online contact with friends and family members. There are many nuances that are not yet well understood and that need to be explored, adds study author Eva Oberle. (as)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Eva Oberle, Xuejun Ryan Ji, Salima Kerai, Martin Guhn, Kimberly A.Schonert-Reichl: Screen time and extracurricular activities as risk and protective factors for mental health in adolescence: A population-level study, in Preventive Medicine (veröffentlicht Volume 141, December 2020), Preventive Medicine
  • University of British Columbia: Teens who participate in extracurriculars, get less screen time, have better mental health (veröffentlicht 02.11.2020), UBC

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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