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Open AccessCommunication

The Conceptual and Methodological Mayhem of “Screen Time”

Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk L39 4QP, UK
Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3AP, UK
MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 7EF, UK
School of Management, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
Department of Psychology, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow G4 0BA, UK
Graduate School of Education, University of Western Australia, 6009 Perth, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3661;
Received: 23 April 2020 / Revised: 20 May 2020 / Accepted: 21 May 2020 / Published: 22 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychosocial Impacts of New Technologies and the Internet)
Debates concerning the impacts of screen time are widespread. Existing research presents mixed findings, and lacks longitudinal evidence for any causal or long-term effects. We present a critical account of the current shortcomings of the screen time literature. These include poor conceptualisation, the use of non-standardised measures that are predominantly self-report, and issues with measuring screen time over time and context. Based on these issues, we make a series of recommendations as a basis for furthering academic and public debate. These include drawing on a user-focused approach in order to seek the various affordances gained from “screen use”. Within this, we can better understand the way in which these vary across time and context, and make distinction between objective measures of “screen time” compared to those more subjective experiences of uses or affordances, and the differential impacts these may bring. View Full-Text
Keywords: screen time; screen use; well-being; social media; self-reports; methods; affordances screen time; screen use; well-being; social media; self-reports; methods; affordances
MDPI and ACS Style

K. Kaye, L.; Orben, A.; A. Ellis, D.; C. Hunter, S.; Houghton, S. The Conceptual and Methodological Mayhem of “Screen Time”. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3661.

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