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MSU study finds teens with limited online access are more socially disconnected

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The study concludes that internet access is so ingrained into adolescent daily life that the amount of time a teen spends in front of a screen should be of less concern than their lack of access to it.

A Michigan State University study finds teens with less access to technology are at greater risk of isolation and poor mental health.

The study concludes that internet access is so ingrained into adolescent daily life that the amount of time a teen spends in front of a screen should be of less concern than their lack of access to it.

MSU Quello Center director of academic research and lead author Keith Hampton says technology is an important social tool, and that kids living in areas with weak broadband infrastructure are most at risk.

“Rural adolescents are far more likely to experience physical disconnection, which puts rural students at greater risk for things like social isolation and lower self-esteem as a result of disconnection,” Hampton said.

Hampton says parents can play a role in helping their children develop healthy media activities.

“The research shows that when they have conversations with teens about the risks of media use and they focus on helping teens develop critical media skills, those teens are less likely to get in trouble in school and they use media more responsibly, including limiting their own time online,” he said.

Hampton says despite certain risks associated with digital media, it’s an ingrained part of youth culture that helps them develop socialization skills.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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