From screen time to the digital level of analysis: A scoping review of measures for digital media use in children and adolescents

Dillon Thomas Browne*, Shealyn S. May, Laura Colucci, Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, Dimitri Christakis, Tracy Asamoah, Lauren Hale, Katia Delrahim-Howlett, Jennifer A. Emond, Alexander G. Fiks, Sheri Madigan, Greg Perlman, Hans Jürgen Rumpf, Darcy Thompson, Stephen Uzzo, Jackie Stapleton, Ross Neville, Heather Prime

*Corresponding author for this work


Objectives This scoping review aims to facilitate psychometric developments in the field of digital media usage and well-being in young people by (1) identifying core concepts in the area of "screen time"and digital media use in children, adolescents, and young adults, (2) synthesising existing research paradigms and measurement tools that quantify these dimensions, and (3) highlighting important areas of need to guide future measure development. Design A scoping review of 140 sources (126 database, 14 grey literature) published between 2014 and 2019 yielded 162 measurement tools across a range of domains, users, and cultures. Database sources from Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Scopus were extracted, in addition to grey literature obtained from knowledge experts and organisations relevant to digital media use in children. To be included, the source had to: (1) be an empirical investigation or present original research, (2) investigate a sample/target population that included children or young persons between the ages of 0 and 25 years of age, and (3) include at least one assessment method for measuring digital media use. Reviews, editorials, letters, comments and animal model studies were all excluded. Measures Basic information, level of risk of bias, study setting, paradigm, data type, digital media type, device, usage characteristics, applications or websites, sample characteristics, recruitment methods, measurement tool information, reliability and validity. Results Significant variability in nomenclature surrounding problematic use and criteria for identifying clinical impairment was discovered. Moreover, there was a paucity of measures in key domains, including tools for young children, whole families, disadvantaged groups, and for certain patterns and types of usage. Conclusion This knowledge synthesis exercise highlights the need for the widespread development and implementation of comprehensive, multi-method, multilevel, and multi-informant measurement suites.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere046367
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)e046367
Publication statusPublished - 19.05.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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