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Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2/2023

26-09-2022 | Empirical Research

Trajectories of Perceived Technological Impairment and Psychological Distress in Adolescents

Auteurs: Kaitlyn Burnell, Candice L. Odgers

Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 2/2023

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Abstract

Fears that digital technologies harm adolescents’ mental health abound; however, existing research is mixed. This study examined how perceived technological impairment (i.e., perceptions of digital technology interfering with daily life) related to psychological distress across five years in adolescence. A latent curve model with structured residuals was applied to disentangle between-from within-person associations, in which it was tested whether (a) adolescents who increased in their perceptions of technological impairment over time also increased in psychological distress (between-person) and (b) if an adolescent who reported greater perceptions of technological impairment relative to their underlying trajectory at one wave consequently reported greater distress at the subsequent wave (within-person). These associations were tested in a sample of 2104 adolescents (Mage = 12.36; 52% girls; 48% Non-White). Perceived technological impairment and psychological distress increased together over time. Girls and older adolescents (13–15 at baseline) reported greater initial levels of perceived impairment. Younger adolescents (9–12 at baseline) increased more steeply in perceived impairment over time. There was no evidence of longitudinal within-person associations. The findings suggest that although there is evidence of between-person associations in which increases in perceived technological impairment coincide with increases in psychological distress, the absence of within-person associations cautions against a cause-and-effect narrative between digital technology use and mental health.
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Voetnoten
1
Multiple group models tested if within-person associations varied by age group and sex. There was no evidence of moderation; however, there were numerous convergence issues and results should be interpreted cautiously.
 
2
A sensitivity analysis limiting the sample to the 486 participants who completed all four waves was conducted, with the same general pattern of results observed. The addition of cross-lagged paths did not significantly improve model fit, suggesting no evidence of within-person associations. The between-person associations among the intercepts and slopes were generally the same, except that the association between the impairment intercept and distress slope was no longer significant (p = .173).
 
3
A sensitivity analysis limiting the sample to those who completed all four waves indicated the same pattern of results, except the marginal association with the distress intercept was now significant (p = .046). A sensitivity analysis in which age was included as a continuous predictor yielded the same pattern of results, except that the marginal association with the distress intercept was not significant (p = .129).
 
4
A sensitivity analysis limiting the sample to those who completed all four waves indicated a slightly different pattern of results, in which the associations with the impairment intercept (p = 0.539) and distress intercept (p = 0.430) were no longer significant. An examination of the means indicating that girls with higher baseline impairment and distress were more likely to be lost over the course of the study, suggesting that limiting the analysis to those who completed all four waves may be omitting girls with a more maladaptive psychosocial profile at baseline, in which they report higher baseline impairment and distress. Interpretation of the results with the full sample is recommended, as the intercepts assess Wave 1 impairment and distress, and data were complete at this wave.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Trajectories of Perceived Technological Impairment and Psychological Distress in Adolescents
Auteurs
Kaitlyn Burnell
Candice L. Odgers
Publicatiedatum
26-09-2022
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Journal of Youth and Adolescence / Uitgave 2/2023
Print ISSN: 0047-2891
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-6601
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-022-01679-1

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