Are adolescents’ technology use really related to depression, suicide and ADHD, or might it be no worse for kids than eating potatoes? In episode 47, Amy Orben from the University of Oxford discusses her explorations into how researchers’ biases can influence their analysis of large datasets. Her article “The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use,” was co-authored with Andy Przybylski and published on January 14, 2019 in the journal Nature: Human Behaviour.

Forking Paths of Kids' Screen Time - Amy Orben
Forking Paths of Kids' Screen Time - Amy Orben
Forking Paths of Kids' Screen Time - Amy Orben Forking Paths of Kids' Screen Time - Amy Orben
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Hosts / Producers

Ryan Watkins & Doug Leigh

How to Cite

Watkins, R., Leigh, D., & Orben, A.. (2019, April 16). Parsing Science – Forking Paths of Kids’ Screen Time. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Amy Orben: Screen time — time spent on digital technologies — I think is a worthless concept. Because I think the important thing is not the time you spend on it, but it’s more what you do on it as well, and the motivations behind it.

Ryan Watkins: This is Parsing Science. The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins.

Doug Leigh: And I’m Doug Leigh. “More screen time for teens linked to ADHD symptoms.” “Limiting children’s’ screen time linked to better cognition.” “Too much screen time, too little horseplay for kids.” Those are just some of the many headlines about the detrimental effects of kids’ digital technologies and their well being. But then there’s this one: “Screen time maybe no worse for kids than eating potatoes.” Today, in episode 47 from Parsing Science we’ll talk with the scientists cited in that last article — Amy Orben, from the University of Oxford — about her research suggesting that the time kids spend staring at computer screens, video games, and smartphones may have almost no significant effect on their well-being. Here is Amy Orben.

Orben: Hello! I’m Amy Orben. I am currently at the University of Oxford, where I’m finishing off my PhD which we called DPhil for no apparent reason. So I’m based in experimental psychology, but my way into experimental psychology wasn’t very clear-cut. I actually studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge thinking that I wanted to study physics. But I found a way actually to wind myself into psychology throughout my degree, and ended up in psychology. And during my time that I started doing large-scale data analysis on data concerning social media sites, and so that’s when it brought me over to Oxford, and I ended up now doing these logical data analyses of data about adolescents, and how they use social media, and how they’re affected by social media. And I do that mainly with my colleague, under Przybylski who is at the Oxford Internet Institute, we really work together on most of our projects now for the last two years.

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