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BACKGROUND: Existing literature on the association of electronic screen use duration with depression among adolescents is contradictory. The current study aimed to elucidate the association between duration of electronic screen use for non-educational purposes and depression symptoms among middle and high school students in Zhejiang Province, China. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 27,070 students in grades 7-12 from 376 middle and high schools was conducted through an anonymous self-administered questionnaire between April and June 2022. Poisson regression was utilized to examine the association between electronic screen use duration for non-educational purposes and depression symptoms. RESULTS: Of the 27,006 eligible students, 51.6% (13932) were boys and the mean (SD) age was 15.6(1.7) years. The overall prevalence of symptoms of depression was 22.4% (95%CI 21.4-23.4); girls (27.6%, 26.2-29.0) had a higher prevalence than boys (17.7%, 16.7-18.8). After adjustment for socio-demographic status, lifestyle factors, self-perceived health, academic performance, loneliness and sadness, compared to those who did not use electronic screens for non-educational purposes, the prevalence ratios (PRs) for depression symptoms were 1.03 (95% CI 1.02-1.04) for those exposed to electronic screens for <1 h/day, 1.07 (1.05-1.09) for 1.0-1.9 h/day, 1.10 (1.07-1.13) for 2.0-2.9 h/day, 1.14 (1.10-1.18) for 3.0-3.9 h/day, 1.18 (1.12-1.23) for 4.0-4.9 h/day, and 1.21 (1.15-1.29) for ≥5 h/day. CONCLUSION: Duration of electronic screen use for non-educational purposes was positively associated with symptoms of depression among middle and high school students, even with a relatively short daily duration of use.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Public Health

Publication Date





adolescents, cross-sectional study, depression symptoms, electronic screen, factors