A new national study finds that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) ages 10 to 14 report 10.4 hours of daily recreational screen time, which is nearly four hours more than their straight peers.
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens are more likely to experience bullying at school and exclusion from peer groups because of their sexual orientation, leading them to spend less time on traditional school activities and more time on screens. Texting and using social media and the Internet for virtual communication can be beneficial for LGBT people to find and receive support from other LGB people who may not be available in their local communities. “
Jason Nagata, MD, lead author, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
Researchers analyzed data from 10,339 teens who are part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. Data was collected from 2018-2020 and the study is published in Annals of Epidemiology. The preteens answered questions about screen time habits and sexual orientation.
Researchers found that teens who identified as LGB reported having more problems using social media. Examples of problematic social media use included using it too much, having struggles associated with it, needing more of it over time, and having trouble quitting even when they want to.
Co-author Kyle T. “Adolescent development is a challenging time for many due to the social pressures and physical, psychological, and emotional changes that occur.”
The authors argue that while digital media can have important benefits, such as support and socialization for LGB teens, parents should try to mitigate the risks of excessive screen use, which can include physical inactivity, poor sleep, and problematic use.
“Parents should talk to their children regularly about screen use and make a plan for family media use,” says Nagata.
Nagata, JM, et al. (2023). Associations between sexual orientation and early adolescent screen use: findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Annals of Epidemiology. doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2023.03.004.