MEKIDA – media Use of children and adolescents and their effects
At a glance
Starting point and goal
The Corona pandemic boosted digitization, but also revealed its
limitations and backwardness. This was especially true of home
schooling, which particularly disadvantaged those children and
adolescents who were already disadvantaged. Likewise, the Corona
pandemic led to an increase in the inappropriate use of media among
adolescents. At the same time, the mental health of adolescents
deteriorated. Is there a connection there?
Even before that, associations of excessive or uncontrolled media use with depression, anxiety, ADHD, sleep disorders, aggressive behavior, or learning disabilities were known. On the other hand, media offer many advantages for children and adolescents, for example in helping them with their homework, exchanging information with friends or promoting their well-being.
A lot of research has been done on this, but it is mostly snapshots. However, especially among children and adolescents, media consumption changes frequently, not least because of constant technological advances. That's why it's important to ask not just once, but several times. This is the intention of the MEKIDA study.
Question, method and data protection
MEKIDA has two main questions (HF) and two secondary questions (NF):
- HF1) What leads to a particular media consumption and what are the long-term consequences of this media consumption?
- HF2) What are the positive and negative effects of media consumption in relation to children and adolescents?
- NF1) What is the difference between online/offline, are there alternatives to online?
- NF2) How do perpetrators and victims differ in aggressive online behavior?
Study with four surveys at intervals of approx. 6 months
(2021-2023), random selection of schools, German-speaking
Switzerland: approx. 1000 children in regular and special schools,
10-14 years, online survey on use of cell phone and computer,
favorite media, on media competence and online safety, as well as
on factors such as well-being, self-esteem, openness, sleep
MEKIDA was submitted to the ethics committee and was found to be of no concern.
The survey is completely anonymous, teachers do not gain insight into the children's answers. We collect, process and use personal data exclusively in compliance with the applicable Swiss Data Protection Act (DSG). In order to ensure data protection, neither names nor addresses of persons are recorded in the survey questionnaires, but only a highly complex code number, which serves solely to correctly allocate the questionnaires over time. A strict data protection concept is in place (see download).
Benefits for practice, teaching and Research
There are still relatively few studies on the consequences of
media use by children and adolescents, both internationally and in
Switzerland. Longitudinal studies are costly and therefore rare.
This research gap is closed by MEKIDA, which tries to follow
children and adolescents over time by including regular and special
schools. It also places greater emphasis on the idea of prevention,
which has been insufficiently considered in pedagogy. Campaigns and
interventions focused on this can prevent the development of
disabilities and mental disorders, and the use of identified
positive factors can reduce or prevent their effects. For
interventions, clear causal statements are necessary, which in turn
are only possible through longitudinal studies. These are virtually
non-existent with children with disabilities, but are equally
lacking in many areas with children in regular schools. Due to the
duration of the study over 2 years, the processes can be followed
over a longer period of time, in which certain patterns of media
behavior emerge and their effects can be studied, which can
certainly go in both directions. By taking variables from the
psychosocial context into account, it will be possible for the
first time to address the consequences of media behavior in
psychosocial health. At the same time, important information will
be obtained about the equipment and use of digital media in times
of crisis, which should then lead to compensatory measures. The
longitudinal character helps to catch such influences, the focus on
online makes it possible to react quickly to new developments in
the digital world.
For the first time, indispensable knowledge is gathered to enable children's lives to deal with media in a meaningful and helpful way. And in the case of children from regular schools, important knowledge is gained that will prevent them from needing pedagogical or psychological help. This will benefit teaching and schools, which can focus on what is important and obtain data for the first time on which media behavior: which has negative consequences and needs to be changed, and which has positive consequences and therefore needs to be reinforced. The results should flow into the module Media and Informatics and be the topic of a conference, can be disseminated via the school bulletins, will flow into further articles, is to be put into manuals and could end up in a book. Furthermore, targeted trainings are possible, which focus on the positive effects of media as well as provide possibilities to counteract the dangers from the Internet.