Digital technology usage is a broad term that covers many devices, services, as well as types of use. Most adolescent digital technology use nowadays takes place on mobile devices. Smartphones offer many of the same functions as other media and are considered “meta media.” They can be used to host a wide variety of services. Teens can communicate with other teens on social media by posting, liking, and sharing. These activities are usually considered active. Teens can, however, engage in passive usage, which is merely watching and lurking at the content of others. However, the binary distinction between active or passive use doesn’t address whether the behavior can be considered goal-directed or procrastination. If you chat with others, it can be considered procrastination. This is because you delay work on a more critical task. There are many challenges when it comes to conceptualizing and measuring the different forms of digital technology use. The conceptual and empirical precision of combining all digital behavior into one predictor of well-being is bound to decrease. The idea of combining all these types and activities under one umbrella term does not acknowledge the fact that they have different functions and different effects.
Mental health includes subcategories such as well-being. Two parts of mental health are generally accepted: positive and negative. Subclinical mental illness, which includes depression and anxiety, is subclinical, can be considered negative mental health. Positive mental health can be described as well-being. It includes hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Surprisingly, mental health problems worldwide have not increased over the past 20 years. The last 20 years have seen a steady increase in general life satisfaction. It is worth noting that the reported increase in mental health issues could simply be due to increased awareness of psychosocial issues. Digital technology might be a driver for hedonic well-being. Watching entertainment can bring us joy and lift our spirits. However, reading negative comments can cause us to become angry and make us feel miserable. Life satisfaction is stable. Technology use is more likely to have a more significant impact on eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. This means that we can expect to see small to moderate effects on short-term effects, but negligible or insignificant effects on long-term effects and life satisfaction.
Adolescence can be defined as the period between puberty (or adult independence) when adolescents are actively developing their personalities. Adolescents are more open-minded than adults; they are more socially oriented, less agreeable and less conscientious, more impulsive, and more capable of inhibiting behavior. They also take more risks and seek out sensations. And, they get a greater share of their well-being from peers. Adolescence is a time when self-esteem and life satisfaction drop to their lowest point. Media use rises and reaches its peak in late adolescence. Many scholars believe that the combination of naturally occurring trends like low self-esteem and a rise in technology use can lead to a causal narrative. One, adolescents may be in the same developmental phase as adults, so there could be more similarities than differences between them. Paternalization has been a common form of concern about the impact of new technology on a vulnerable group.
What are the effects of digital technology on our well-being? Asking US teens directly, 31% believe the effects are predominantly positive, while 45% consider the effects to be neither positive nor detrimental, and 24% think the effects are mostly harmful. The effects were positive for teens who believed they helped them
(i) make friends
(iii) meet like-minded people
Best et analyzed 43 studies that examined the effects of social media on adolescents’ mental well-being. They found that most studies either had mixed results or none. McCrae et al also analyzed studies that looked at the relationship between social networking and depression. The quality of these meta-analyses relies on has been criticized. Because individual studies are often of low quality, this can bias meta-analyses. Scholars have advocated for larger-scale studies with longitudinal designs and objective measures of digital tech use that differentiate types, experience sampling measures to assess well-being (also known as an ambulant assessment, in situ assessment), and statistical separation between within-person and between-person variance.
There are many conflicting points and research results, but there are some common implications.
1. Although the general impact of digital technology on well-being is likely to be in the negative range, they are still very small and potentially too minor to make a difference.
2. Screen time is not equal. Different uses can have different results.
3. The short-term effects of digital technology are more likely to have a negative or positive impact than long-term satisfaction with life.
4. It seems that the dose is what makes the poison. Both excessive and low use seems to be associated with decreased well-being. Moderate use, however, appears to lead to higher well-being.
5. Although adolescents are more likely to be affected by the effects of digital technology on their well-being than adults, it is important to not patronize adolescents. The effects are similar and adolescents are not powerless.
Although digital technology has been studied for almost 30 years, there is no consistent empirical evidence that digital technology promotes or hinders well-being. The likelihood is that the general effects of digital technology are minimal at best, and likely to be in the negative range. This conclusion is not valid if we consider other factors. Positive effects can be achieved by active use, which aims to build meaningful social connections. Passive use is likely to have negative consequences. Both could follow a nonlinear trend. Extreme use of digital technology is more likely to indicate a socio-psychological problem. The best answer to the question of how technology affects adolescent well-being is that it’s complex.