Technology is lauded by some as a cure-all for the stickiest problems, while others decry it as the root cause of all modernity’s evils. Here are overviews of five research articles from last year that challenge us to question what digital technology can and can’t do:

1. Actually, Banning Laptops in Class Might Not Be the Best Idea
This study looked at how banning laptops affects student performance. In two identical classes where the only difference was the presence or absence of laptops, students in the banned-laptop class had worse attendance and lower assignment grades.

2. Education Can’t Cure Gaming Disorder, But It Might Convince Parents to Keep Their Child in Treatment
Researchers found that parents of patients admitted to a mental health unit for gaming disorder treatment who received psychoeducation to understand and treat their child’s disorder were more likely to keep their child in treatment. However, psychoeducation of parents didn’t seem to reduce symptoms in patients.

3. When Technology and Lectures Divide Student Attention
In studying the effects of personal device use for non-academic purposes in class on knowledge retention, researchers found that while short-term retention was unaffected by personal device use, personal device use in class was associated with lower unit and final exam scores.

4. Digital Screen Time Limits for Young Children Might Not Be Beneficial
In a study of almost 20,000 participants, researchers found that the screen time limits promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics are not empirically supported. In fact, there might actually be small psychological benefits to screen use for young children.

5. The Effects of Screen Time on Teenagers
This study looked at the mental and physical health of over 300 seventh-graders as it related to their screen use habits. Results revealed a range of negative associations between screen time and mental health, though non-recreational screen time did not lead to negative health indicators.

Image: by Gerd Leonhard via Flickr