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Digital Engagement, Socioeconomic Inequalities and Adolescent Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study

May 31 2022

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Digital Engagement, Socioeconomic Inequalities and Adolescent Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study

Speaker: Pablo Gracia, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Research & Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin

Despite the growing literature on digital divides, how the digital world relates to social inequalities in young people’s well-being remains insufficiently understood. Based on high-quality longitudinal data from the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) I have explored how digital engagement shapes socioemotional well-being and educational outcomes from middle childhood to late adolescence across family socioeconomic status (SES). Results show that: (1) time spent in digital activities increases markedly from 9 to 18 years old, but more among low-SES than among high-SES adolescents; (2) spending more than 3 hours per day in digital screen-time is associated with significant declines in adolescents’ well-being, particularly for externalising functioning and prosocial attitudes, but engaging in learning-oriented digital activities and electronic gaming is associated with better adolescent outcomes, particularly for math scores; (3) low-SES adolescents are more harmed by heavy use of digital devices and high-SES adolescents more benefited by moderate digital use levels, but the type of digital engagement has similar well-being consequences by SES. Overall, the study suggests that heavy levels of digital engagement harms adolescents’ well-being by amplifying the disadvantages experienced by low-SES adolescents, but also that engaging in digital learning-oriented and gaming activities can benefit adolescents across SES groups.

Institution:
European Association for Population Studies
Location:
Online, Zoom