Associations between Childhood and Adolescent Emotional and Behavioral Characteristics and Screen Time of Adolescents

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2020 Aug;41(8):700-712. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2020.1725195. Epub 2020 May 13.


The correlations between emotional and behavioral problems and increased screen time among young people has been highlighted in the literature. This study examined both longitudinal and cross-directional associations between the degree of childhood and adolescent emotional and behavioral problem characteristics and a higher level of daily screen time in adolescence using an extensive population study. Questionnaires providing data on a representative cohort sample (the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 Study, NFBC 1986; n = 6479; 3101 males) were completed at birth, in childhood, and in adolescence. Male gender, and self-reported behavioral issues (such as a higher degree of hyperactivity/distractibility problems at the beginning of formal schooling and adolescent rule-breaking problems), predicted higher daily screen time in adolescence, after controlling for confounding factors. Higher levels of anxious-depression symptoms among adolescents were inversely related to them having elevated daily digital screen time. Individual behavioral tendencies at the start of formal schooling and later in adolescence may predict higher screen time among young people.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Problem Behavior / psychology
  • Screen Time*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires