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Mindfulness helps kids deal with too much screen time, Waypoint study finds

'The younger generations have never experienced life without smartphones. It’s like an extra arm — part of their body that they cannot live without,' research scientist says
Dr. Soyeon Kim is a research scientist and the principal investigator for a recent study on mindfulness-based interventions.

A new Waypoint Research Institute study finds practicing mindfulness could aid the emotional well-being of youths impacted by excessive screen time.

“The younger generations have never experienced life without smartphones,” Waypoint research scientist Dr. Soyeon Kim said. “It’s like an extra arm — part of their body that they cannot live without.”

As the study's lead investigator, Kim noted that numerous studies have shown kids who spend too much time online, texting or watching TV can suffer from emotional issues like anxiety and depression, which only only got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim and her collaborators set out to explore whether behavioural problems and increase psychological health would help through mindfulness, a practice that involves being in the moment with a non-judgmental and accepting attitude.

During the 12-week study period, a total of 117 participants were asked to embrace, pay attention to and process their experiences for one hour each week rather than just unconsciously performing them.

“Mindfulness-based interventions are something that is very preventive,” said Kim, who likens it to a type of secular meditation. “It’s convenient, easy to apply and it’s good for everyone.”

The youths in the study came from partner organizations in the community — including the North Simcoe Youth Wellness Hub — as well as the Haliburton and Guelph-Wellington areas.

Each participant filled out a survey indicating their mental well-being before and after the ‘mindfulness-based interventions'. Researchers were interested in measuring conduct problems and hyperactivity.

“After the mindfulness program, hyperactivity symptoms decreased significantly,” Kim said, noting mindfulness was shown to be effective regardless of how much time youths spend in front of screens.

According to Waypoint, the results are important because children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are most commonly treated with medication, which can come with side effects.

“In addition, ‘mindfulness-based interventions’ are potentially valuable for those who live in areas where access to mental-health services isn’t readily available,” the centre noted in a release.

More information about mindfulness can be found here. To read the complete study, click here.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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