New Study Highlights Association Between Increased Screen Time And Future OCD For Children

A higher amount of screen time could end up being connected to an increased risk of developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder, as stated in a new study.

Made public this past Monday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study was carried out across 9,200 kids between the ages of nine and ten that reported just how long they were using screens. The various different uses involved playing video games, watching videos, texting, chatting with others via video calls, watching movies and shows, and utilizing social media websites.

Two years after they discussed the time they spend on each of those activities, scientists requested their parents to talk about diagnoses of OCD, as well as various symptoms of OCD. The study researchers discovered that every additional hour of watching videos and playing video games ended up being connected “with a subsequent OCD diagnosis.”

The study stated that each additional hour of video game playing went along with a 13% higher risk of possible OCD, and every additional hour of watching videos was connected with 11% more risk. When they followed up after a two year span, the researchers discovered that 4.4% of the group ended up developing new-onset OCD from baseline. Additionally, 6.6% “met diagnostic criteria for OCD.”

OCD has been defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder” in which someone “has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts” “and/or behaviors” that someone “feels the urge to repeat over and over.”

As explained by the¬†American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, OCD typically starts around the time of a person’s late teens and when someone is in their early adult years. It normally happened in about 1 in 200 children and teens. Roughly 1-3 % of kids and teens have OCD, as reported by Evolve Treatment Centers.

“Although screen time can have important benefits such as education and increased socialization, parents should be aware of the potential risks, especially to mental health,” stated the leader of the study, Dr. Jason Nagata. “Children who spend excessive time playing video games report feeling the need to play more and more and being unable to stop despite trying.”

“Intrusive thoughts about video game content could develop into obsessions or compulsions,” continued Nagata. “Screen addictions are associated with compulsivity and loss of behavioral control, which are core symptoms of OCD.”

The current standardized algorithmic model and targeted ads on websites such as YouTube could wind up creating an environment “for compulsive viewing of homogenous content,” concluded the study.

While this research does not actually show any sort of causal link, the association is one that could spark further insight into the overall effects of extended screen time. The express purpose of this study was “to determine the prospective associations between baseline screen time and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”


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