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One in four people are choosing to get less sleep to stay on screens, French study finds

A woman in bed with her phone.
A woman in bed with her phone. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Lauren Chadwick
Published on
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A large survey of French households found that many people say screens have a harmful effect on their lives.

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One-third of Internet users in France said that they had experienced a harmful effect from screens outside of work or study, with one in four people saying they limit their sleep to stay on a screen at least once a week.

The youngest respondents were most likely to be impacted, with 57 per cent of young people under 20 and 49 per cent of those aged 20 to 34 saying they had experienced a harmful effect from screens.

The annual survey was carried out by France's National Statistics and Economic Studies Institute (Insee) in early 2023 and included 31,000 households who responded by mail, Internet and phone. Respondents were aged between 15 and 74 years old.

Besides impacting sleep, the other harmful effects reported included neglecting hobbies or having an obsessive desire to look at a screen.

People under 30 were more likely to limit their sleep time over screens than older respondents.

The survey also found that one-third of Internet users had previously attempted to limit their use of screens. Of them, some 7 per cent were unable to do so.

Conflict and depression

Around 5 per cent of Internet users in France also reported having a conflict due to screen use and around 4 per cent said they felt depressed due to phone or computer screens.

This was higher among respondents aged 15 to 19, with some 11 per cent saying they felt depressed after using a screen.

The use of phone or computer screens was also seen as a source of conflict among families, with nine per cent of people living in a household with at least one minor saying they had a conflict with loved ones at least once a week due to screen use.

Insee said that screens counteracted the usual impact of age on well-being with the feeling of being depressed among those aged 20 to 34 just 0.2 points lower than the average for adults.

Several studies have looked into the impact of screens on health, including that they can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle.

A large Oxford University study of two million people's psychological health last year however found no "smoking gun" linking technology to well-being.

Researchers said however that more data was needed from technology companies on the impact of Internet use on health.

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