Moreover, in many cases young video
gamers deceive their parents and play
late at night or early in the morning,
which can explain reduction in breakfast frequency.
Figure 3 shows a decline in face-
to-face social activities in youth that
parallels the increase in the use of lei-
sure technologies. Circa 2016, youth
attended social functions, met friends,
Here, I seek to shed light on tech-
nology use trends in youth and ex-
amine their parallels with a range
of adverse outcomes in the school,
social, well-being, and health do-
mains. To achieve this objective, I
analyze a large dataset (n=152,172)
of survey responses by youth, ap-
proximately 13–16 years old, across
the U.S. This data is drawn from an
annual (2012–2016) survey adminis-
tered to hundreds of schools.
Figures 1–4 portray, correspondingly,
trends in: time (hours/day) spent on
leisure vs. for school computing and
work; healthy lifestyle activities; social activities; and well-being and self-worth. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
Figure 1 demonstrates an increase
in the use of computing technologies, both for leisure and for school
purposes. However, the average increase in technology use for leisure
( 30 minutes/day) is twice as much
as the average increase in the use of
technology for school assignments
( 15 minutes/day). Given the zero-sum-game of a student’s after-school
time, one possibility is the use of
technologies for leisure purposes is
alluring and consequently cannibalizes from schoolwork time (average
reduction of 11. 4 minutes/day between 2012 and 2016). Another possibility is the changes in the use of
technology for schoolwork increases
efficiency in homework tasks; but
the nature of such potential efficiencies (for example, increased ease of
finding explanations vs. increased
ease of finding an online solution to
copy) is unclear.
Figure 2 shows the changes in technology use patterns described in Figure
1 parallel a decline in the frequency of
important healthy lifestyle activities,
including eating breakfast, exercising,
and getting sufficient sleep. Again,
this might be explained via the zero-sum-game argument; the use of alluring technologies might have cannibalized from healthy lifestyle activities.
For instance, video gaming can consume people’s time and prevent physical activity; it can also reduce sleep via
the blue light emitted from screens.
Figure 1. Trends in time spent on leisure computing vs. school work in youth.
Error bars: 95% CI
Daily Hours of Homework Daily Hours of Computer Use for School Work
Daily Hours of Internet Use
Not for School
Figure 2. Trends in healthy lifestyle activities in youth.
Error bars: 95% CI
( 1) Never
( 2) Seldom
( 3) Sometimes
( 4) Most Days
( 5) Nearly Every Day
( 6) Everyday
How Often Eat Breakfast How Often Exercise
How Often Get At Least
7 Hours of Sleep/Night