The conceptual and methodological mayhem of “screen time”

Linda K. Kaye, Amy Orben, David Ellis, Simon Hunter, Stephen Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (SciVal)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3661
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2020


  • Sustainability
  • Health


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