About 10-20% of children and youth are diagnosed with a mental disorder and many more experience subclinical symptoms of mental disorders. With increasing prevalence rates, researchers are attempting to identify modifiable behaviours that can prevent symptoms related to mental disorders. Promoting physical activity and reducing screen time have been identified as important targets that can enhance psychological health. In this presentation, Carleton Professor Katie Gunnell reviews the literature on the independent relationships between physical activity, screen time, and psychological health and findings from my own research. She also outlines one of the difficulties of studying screen time over time given changes in technology. Finally, she outlines her ongoing program of research that focuses on understanding the quality of screen time rather than solely focusing on the quantity of screen time. This session is part of the Healthy Workplace Mental Health Speaker Series 2020/2021.
About the Researcher: Katie Gunnell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University. She is interested in understanding the psychological correlates and mechanisms of psychological health and behaviour across various populations including youth, adults, and individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis. Her research examines all aspects of the psychological health continuum including ill-being (e.g., symptoms of depression), hedonic well-being (e.g., positive affect), and eudaimonic well-being (e.g., vitality). The behaviours she is interested in understanding include physical activity and recreational screen time (e.g., watching TV, playing video games). In an effort to better understand how to enhance psychological health and physical activity and decrease screen time, Katie is particularly interested in psychological needs (e.g., competence, autonomy, and relatedness) and motivation as mechanisms for change. In a secondary line of research, she is interested in psychometrics and quantitative statistics.