Editorial: Did Goldilocks Have It Right? How Do We Define Too Little, Too Much, or Just Right?

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Clinicians, teachers, and parents alike have long lamented screen time and its developmental and psychological implications, particularly as access to digital devices, games, and online platforms has become ubiquitous. In 2018, 95% of U.S. teens reported having access to a smartphone, and 45% reported being online “almost constantly.”1 Parental and expert concerns include displacement of important activities such as sleep and exercise, Internet or video game addiction, negative social experiences such as cyberbullying, and worry that excessive use may cause or worsen mental health symptoms such as depression.23 Research on the subject is challenging, as associations between device use and psychological functioning are likely multifactorial and nonlinear and therefore difficult to elucidate from small samples or samples that are lacking in rich covariate data. In addition, the rapid pace of technological change makes studying and reporting on these phenomena challenging as studies may be out of date before they are even published.

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