Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Andvik, Vicki


screen time, screen use, depression, children, adolescent, adolescents, social media, mental disorders, mental health, depressive disorder, youth, screen media, digital media


The association between depression in the youth population and screen use has remained largely unclear. Depression is a common finding in children and adolescents, and as mobile phones, computers, and television are becoming more readily available to young populations, evaluation of the relationship between the two could likely be very important. Unfortunately, little concrete evidence has been established regarding the direct effects of screen time and the presence or development of depression. A literature review comprised of both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies was performed to evaluate the current literature regarding screen use and depression in the youth population, including differences between sexes, across ages, and amongst different types of screen time, based on the current available body of evidence. This literature review’s results demonstrate that an association between screen use and depression in the youth population does exist, particularly cross sectionally. The results also show that a causative relationship may exist between screen use and the development of later depressive symptoms, however, the causative influence that screen use has upon depressive symptoms is quite minor. Social media and internet use were found to have the greatest association with depressive symptoms, and girls tend to use these platforms at higher volumes than boys. Insights gathered from this literature review could be helpful in both guiding screen use recommendations and identifying youth at risk for depression.