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Title: Teens, screens and well-being : an improved approach
Author: Orben, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7257
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Concerns about emergent technologies form a continuous cycle: they appear when a new technology surpasses a certain popularity threshold and stop once a newer technology prompts the cycle to restart. Currently, society is concerned about teenage digital technology and social media use, which is feared to negatively impact well-being. While there has been a flurry of research in the area, remarkably little consensus has been reached. I argue in this thesis that such a lack of consensus stems from a lack of methodological rigour. Using innovations put forth by psychology's recent credibility revolution, I devise an improved methodological framework for the study of emergent technologies. I then apply it to investigate digital technology and social media use's association with decreased adolescent well-being, using large-scale secondary datasets from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States. My first study implements a methodological approach called Specification Curve Analysis, which tackles analytical flexibility by illustrating how diverse analytical approaches can produce a wide range of numerical outcomes. Furthermore, I develop a comparison specification method to put the size of the associations found into perspective. My second study focuses on diversifying measurement and implements an explicit exploratory and confirmatory hypothesis testing framework. Lastly, my third study utilises high-quality longitudinal data to highlight the bidirectional and individual nature of the effects of interest. All studies indicate that previous systematic reviews overestimated the negative link between digital technology use and well-being. It is however still unclear whether the small, complex and inherently multivariate relationship found in this thesis should engender widespread policy change.
Supervisor: Dunbar, Robin ; Bishop, Dorothy Sponsor: Barnardo's UK ; EU Horizon 2020
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Metascience ; Psychology ; Psychological Methods