Rarely a week goes by without an expert commentator or a seemingly credible organisation drawing the conclusion ‘screen time’ is having a negative effect on our lives. Screens, they say, are damaging our relationships, harming our mental health and interrupting our sleeping patterns and chipping away at our ability as humans to communicate in a face-to-face context.

My talk will look at the myths and misconceptions people might understandably have about the concept of ‘screen time’, particularly given the media obsession with this topic. I will frame the debate in a historical context, as screens are not new. I will look at how we actually measure screen time and why we can’t necessarily draw conclusions simply from counting the hours we spend looking at screens. I will also look at the suggested correlation between screen time and negative outcomes, and argue that the evidence linking the two is, at best, scant.

I will look at where we go from here in this debate, and how with the support of the tech companies and others in this space we can harness data to better understand where screen time might benefit or harm individuals. Ultimately, we have an opportunity to better understand if those who use screens to sell us a product or experience are really operating in our own interests. Most importantly though I will look at how the wider context of how we live as adults and children in our modern societies might actually provide greater clues as to our online – and offline – wellbeing.

About the speakers

  • Professor Andrew Przybylski

    Affiliation: Associate Professor, Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research, Oxford Internet Institute
This page was last modified on 1 October 2019