Objective: To examine associations between screen time (television, video or DVD, gaming, and computer use) and attachment to parents and peers in 2 cohorts of adolescents 16 years apart.
Design: Cross-sectional data regarding screen time and attachment to parents and peers were collected for 2 cohorts of adolescents, one in 1987-1988 (the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study [DMHDS] cohort) and the other in 2004 (the Youth Lifestyle Study [YLS] cohort).
Setting: Members of the DMHDS cohort were interviewed as part of a full day of assessment, and members of the YLS cohort completed a self-report questionnaire in a supervised classroom setting.
Participants: The DMHDS cohort (n = 976) was aged 15 years in 1987-1988. The YLS cohort (n = 3043) was aged 14 to 15 years in 2004.
Main outcome measures: Screen time and low attachment to parents and peers as measured by the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment.
Results: More time spent television viewing and less time spent reading and doing homework were associated with low attachment to parents for both cohorts. Among the YLS cohort, more time spent playing on a computer was also associated with low attachment to parents. Among the DMHDS cohort, more time spent television viewing was associated with low attachment to peers.
Conclusions: Screen time was associated with poor attachment to parents and peers in 2 cohorts of adolescents 16 years apart. Given the importance of attachment to parents and peers in adolescent health and development, concern about high levels of screen time among adolescents is warranted.