Results showed that adolescents who spent more time with electronic media (smartphones, electronic games, and the Internet) were generally less happy, less satisfied with their lives, and had lower self-esteem. On the other hand, adolescents who spent more time on non-screen activities, including sports and exercise, in-personal socializing, and print media had higher psychological well-being. This trend was especially apparent for 8th and 10th graders though the overall relationship between screen time and well-being was much weaker for 12th graders.
When looking at the possible role of academic pressures, including amount of time spent on homework, 8th and 10th graders who reported spending more time on homework actually reported higher self-esteem and well-being. As for economic factors, no clear link could be found between the Great Recession and psychological well-being in adolescents.
Though it isn’t possible to determine whether there is an actual causal connection based on survey findings alone, Twenge and her co-researchers point out that statistical analysis of the survey results do appear to suggest a causal relationship. Across the years studied, increases in electronic communication use by adolescents generally preceded decreases in psychological well-being.