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Associations between sexual orientation and early adolescent screen use: findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study



To assess the association between sexual orientation and screen use (screen time and problematic screen use) in a demographically diverse national sample of early adolescents in the United States.


We analyzed cross-sectional data from year 2 of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (N = 10,339, 2018-2020, ages 10-14 years). Multiple linear regression analyses estimated the association between sexual orientation and recreational screen time, as well as problematic use of video games, social media, and mobile phones.


In a sample of 10,339 adolescents (48.7% female, 46.0% racial/ethnic minority), sexual minority (compared to heterosexual) identification was associated with 3.72 (95% CI 2.96-4.47) more hours of daily recreational screen time, specifically more time on television, YouTube videos, video games, texting, social media, video chat, and browsing the internet. Possible sexual minority identification (responding "maybe" to the sexual minority question) was associated with 1.58 (95% CI 0.92-2.24) more hours of screen time compared to heterosexual identification. Sexual minority and possible sexual minority identification were associated with higher problematic social media, video games, and mobile phone use.


Sexual minority adolescents spend a disproportionate amount of time engaging in screen-based activities, which can lead to problematic screen use.

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