Less screen time can improve the psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction and happiness) of teenagers, according to a study published this month in the journal PsycNet.

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The study found that adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on non-screen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being.

Teens who spent a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.

Psychological well-being was lower in years when adolescents spent more time on screens and higher in years when they spent more time on non-screen activities, with changes in activities generally preceding declines in well-being.

The psychological well-being suddenly decreased in teenagers after 2012. The study suggests that changes in the reported well-being of teens was at least partially due to the rapid adoption of smartphones and the subsequent shift in adolescents’ time use.