Digital media exposure and impulsivity in European adolescents - the I.Family study

E. Sina, C. Buck, W. Ahrens, J. Coumans, G. Eiben, A. Formisano, L. Lissner, A. Mazur, N. Michels, D. Molnar

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Abstract/Poster in journal Academicpeer-review


Emotion-driven impulsiveness (i.e., impulsivity) is associated with obesity in adolescents. Yet, how exposure to digital media (DM) is related to impulsivity in free-living European youth remains unknown.

This study included ADHD-free adolescents aged 12-18 years, who participated in the third examination wave of the IDEFICS/I.Family cohort (2013-2014), and who provided information on their impulsivity. Participants self-reported their DM exposure (hours/day), for smartphone, internet, television viewing, and computer/game console (PC). Media multitasking (i.e., simultaneous use of PC with other media) was also reported. Latent class analyses were applied to identify underlying patterns of DM exposure. Generalized linear mixed regressions, adjusted for confounders (e.g., weight status) were used to estimate regression coefficients (β) and 99.9% confidence intervals (CI).

The analyses included 3222 adolescents (mean age/SD=13.6/1.1; half girls), 26% of whom were with overweight/obesity. The results showed that one additional hour of exposure to smartphones (β, 0.73; 99.9%CI, 0.41-1.06), internet (β, 0.57; 99.9%CI, 0.28-0.86), and higher media multitasking (β, 0.72; 99.9%CI, 0.33-1.11) were positively associated with impulsivity in all participants. The latent class analyses identified four patterns of DM exposure. Adolescents with prolonged smartphone/internet exposure but low PC/medium TV exposure (β, 1.61, 99.9%CI, 0.41, 2.82) showed higher impulsivity score, compared to those with low exposure to all media, especially girls and participants living in two-parent families.

Prolonged DM exposure is related to being more impulsive in the context of negative emotions in European adolescents. Although future longitudinal research should confirm these findings, they hint at a further underlying mechanism by which DM exposure may lead to obesity and subsequent metabolic disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ii634
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupplement_2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Event16th European Public Health Conference 2023
Our Food, Our Health, Our Earth: A Sustainable Future for Humanity
- Ireland , Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 8 Nov 202311 Nov 2023
Conference number: 16


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital media exposure and impulsivity in European adolescents - the I.Family study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this