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Mindfullness-based intervention
Study suggests practices to offset effects of too much screen time
Posted on 05/06/2024

Soyeon KimA study conducted by the Waypoint Research Institute (WRI) bears hopeful news for youths whose emotional well-being has been impacted by excessive screen time.

“The younger generations have never experienced life without smartphones,” said Dr. Soyeon Kim, a WRI Research Scientist and the study’s principal investigator. “It’s like an extra arm — part of their body that they cannot live without.”

She pointed out numerous studies have shown the negative effects of texting, online gaming, social media and television on emotional problems like anxiety and depression. And that only got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Kim and her collaborators — WRI Research Co-ordinator Stephanie Munten, Dr. Nathan Kolla, Waypoint’s former Vice-President, Research & Academics, and Research Psychologist Dr. Barna Konkoly-Thege — set out to explore whether a 12-week mindfulness program help reduce the behavioural problems and increase psychological health.

It turns out the answer is yes.

But what is mindfulness? Simply put, it is the practice of being in the moment with a non-judgmental and accepting attitude. For example, practitioners take heed of their breathing in their daily lives, like while eating or walking. During the 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 perform them.

“Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are something that is very preventive,” explained Dr. Kim, likening it to a type of secular meditation. “It’s convenient, easy to apply, and it’s good for everyone.”

More information about mindfulness can be found online at

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 MBIs. Researchers were interested in measuring conduct problems and hyperactivity.

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

The results are important because children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, are most commonly treated with medication, which can come with side effects. In addition, MBIs are potentially valuable for those who live in areas where access to mental-health services isn’t readily available.

The study, which was published April 9, was supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Visit to read the complete study.