The time children spend in front of screens each day has increased by more than 50 percent during the pandemic – the equivalent of an extra hour and twenty minutes.
Lockdowns and school closures in early 2020 affected more than 1.5 billion children worldwide, a change that has upended their daily lives and systems of social interactions with their peers.
Average daily screen use by children rose 52 percent during the pandemic, adding 84 minutes to the 162 minutes spent in front of the screen each day.
Digital device use is not in itself a risk, but unmoderated screen time can have long-lasting effects on a child’s mental and physical health. Excessive screen time can cause physical eyestrain and body strain, sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment.
Excess time on digital devices has also been linked to decreased physical activity and increased obesity, as well as lower self-esteem and poor socialization skills.
The Covid pandemic prompted a wave of lockdowns in early spring intended to stem the spread of the virus, which forced schools to close, jobs to relocate to remote platforms and the public to isolate from their peers.
Average daily screen usage increased 1.5-fold during the pandemic from a baseline of 162 minutes per day to 246 minutes, with children aged 12 to 18 seeing the largest increase
The society-wide upheaval prompted people to use their devices more for work and education purposes, as well as for convenience and staying connected with others.
Researchers from the University of Calgary, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and University College Dublin collected screen usage data from 46 studies spanning January 2020 to March 5, 2022.
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2018 data from ongoing National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies found that children who spend two hours a day in front of screens perform lower on language and reasoning tests.
And those with excessive screen time showed premature thinning of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that processes sensory information.
A 2013 study from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that children who spend hours in front of screens were more likely to gain weight over their lifetime because screen time leads to poor eating habits.
Meanwhile, a 2004 study from Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center found that watching television in children ages one to three can lead to attention deficits by age seven.
A 2018 Oxford University study showed that increased screen time slightly reduced the amount of sleep children get per night.
There are also serious implications for children’s well-being.
Researchers at the University of Exeter found in 2009 that longer television viewing was associated with lower self-esteem and self-esteem.
There are also lower levels of happiness, researchers from the University of British Columbia found the same year.
The researchers said: “To cope with such unprecedented disruptions to normal living conditions, many children and families have likely used digital devices to get around their time during the pandemic.
“Population-wide increases in screen time among children and adolescents were therefore expected.”
Before the pandemic hit, children spent about 160 minutes a day on digital devices. Average daily screen usage increased 1.5x during the pandemic.
Children aged 12-18 showed the biggest spike in screen time, adding 110 minutes per day.
The average time spent using personal computers and handheld devices such as smartphones increased by 46 and 44 minutes per day, respectively.
Researchers attributed the steep increase to the fact that most children in this age group have access to digital devices, such as smartphones and PCs, that they can use inside and outside of school.
“This result is consistent with the observation that as devices became a central part of daily life and interactions during the pandemic – for work, school, learning, socialization and leisure alike – 1 in 5 parents reportedly bought new devices primarily for their children bought computers and handheld devices,” the researchers said.
People in this age group are already primed to spend much of their free time in front of screens, where they make friends and socialize.
As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, students of all ages suddenly had to go to school remotely, and researchers believe it was natural for them to turn to online platforms to stay connected with their peers.
The increase in screen time could be a temporary side effect of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, but the researchers warned that “persistently problematic screen-usage habits could emerge.”
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/child-screen-time-has-shot-up-50-since-2020-with-screen-time-averaging-around-4-hours-per-day/ Children’s screen time has increased by 50% since 2020, with screen time averaging around 4 hours per day