Survey: A third of US kids had excessive screen time amid COVID

A couple of third of US youngsters used media addictively in fall 2020, a discovering tied to household stressors however not a lower within the variety of screen-time guidelines applied, finds a survey of US mother and father revealed right this moment in Pediatrics.

Investigators from Seattle Youngsters’s Analysis Institute surveyed 1,000 US mother and father who had a minimum of one youngster aged 6 to 17 years to guage how COVID-19 pandemic-related household stressors and the variety of screen-time guidelines affected their youngsters’s media use in October and November 2020. The pattern included 500 mother and father every with youngsters within the 6- to 10-year-old group and within the 11- to 17-year-old group.

Mother and father accomplished the Affected person Well being Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) and the Problematic Media Use Scale and have been requested about parental employment standing, demographic traits, and whether or not their youngster attended college in individual or remotely.

Boys had extra problematic media use

Mother and father labored full time in 36% of households, and 22% of youngsters attended college in individual. The common mother or father PHQ-4 rating was 3.15, indicating gentle despair and anxiousness. A complete of 32.6% of youngsters 6 to 10 years previous and 38.8% of these 11 to 17 had Problematic Media Use Measure scores of 27 and up, indicating extreme display screen time.

Addictive youngster media use was commonest in households by which mother and father labored full time, have been residence (eg, labored from residence), had low ranges of formal training, and have been psychologically burdened, and by which the kids had a hybrid college mannequin (half in individual and half distant).

Amongst 6- to 10-year-olds, mother and father enforced barely fewer media limits on weekdays or weekends and through meals than earlier than the pandemic (2.55 vs 2.82). This was primarily on account of modifications in implementation of 4 of the seven media-use guidelines: cellular gadgets charged exterior the kid’s bed room (45% vs 49% prepandemic), no display screen use throughout meals (43% vs 46%), weekday media-use limits (21% vs 29%), and weekend limits (17% vs 21%).

Within the 11- to 17-year-old age-group, the variety of guidelines put in place amid the pandemic fell barely (common, 1.74) from earlier than the pandemic (2.00). The lower was pushed by modifications in implementation of 5 of the seven screen-time–limiting guidelines, together with no media use throughout meals (41% vs 43% prepandemic), no display screen time a minimum of 1 hour earlier than mattress (28% vs 36%), limits on kinds of content material accessed (41% vs 43%), and screen-time limits on weekdays (11% vs 17%) and weekends (7% vs 10%). 

Absolutely the variety of guidelines applied, nonetheless, was not considerably related to addictive media use in both age-group. However within the youthful age-group, a better drop in screen-time guidelines was considerably related to extreme media use (charge ratio [RR], 0.99).

For every 1-point improve in parental PHQ-4 rating, extreme media use scores elevated by 0.46 factors within the youthful age-group and 1.27 factors within the older youngsters. Youngster gender was considerably related to problematic media use within the youthful age-group—women scored 1.71 fewer factors, on common, than boys on the extreme screen-time scale.

Adjusting household display screen time

The research interval was marked by the closure of many colleges, childcare facilities, workplaces, and leisure venues, and bodily distancing precluded the same old social interactions. Household stressors, the researchers mentioned, might have included parental psychological misery on account of structural racism, well being inequities, monetary insecurity stemming from job loss or lowered hours, much less office flexibility, and fewer potential to oversee youngsters at residence.

“Consequently, screen-based media grew to become more and more central for youngster studying and enrichment, supervision, recreation, and socialization,” the researchers wrote. “Such modifications might have strengthened peer norms associated to media use and adjusted the household media panorama such that gadgets have been used throughout extra occasions and locations within the residence (eg, as extra college, employment, and socialization occurred remotely).”

Extreme display screen time has been linked to hostile well being penalties in youngsters, the authors mentioned. “A rising physique of analysis means that when display screen use interferes with different developmentally essential actions (sleep, bodily exercise, or in-person social interplay), bodily and psychosocial well being can undergo,” they wrote.

Consequently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that folks limit display screen time and media content material, promote good sleep habits, and put aside screen-free occasions corresponding to throughout household meals, the authors famous.

They acknowledged, nonetheless, that permitting youngsters some display screen time can have some advantages, together with giving mother and father time to do family duties corresponding to meal preparation, making bedtime smoother, occupying and calming youngsters, rewarding good conduct, offering enrichment, and supporting the parent-child bond.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, it will likely be essential to assist mother and father regulate their household’s media practices cognizant of the truth that extra youngsters might have developed problematic display screen use behaviors,” the researchers wrote. “Such efforts ought to heart the function of structural and social determinants of well being inequities on the stressors that households expertise and that affect media use.”

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