The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
Has your child’s screen time increased since COVID? If you were to estimate by how much would you say 20%, 30% or even a 50% increase?
A newly released review comparing children’s screen time before and during COVID, shows children’s screen time spiked by a whopping 52% between 2020 and 2022. Increases were highest for children aged 12 to 18 years, and for handheld devices and personal computers.
Increased screen time likely did not negatively interfere with well-being during lockdown periods as it was the only way to remain socially connected. However many worry, about the impact of ongoing high levels of screen time on children.
There are important points to consider regarding how problematic screen time impacts mental and cognitive health, which sit at the core of learning and development for children, and for us as adults.
Even though life is (almost) back to normal, many parents have noticed their child’s technology use is still much higher than pre-COVID levels. Their instinct may be to come down hard with rules and restrictions.
Taking measures to cut a child’s screen time may seem like the most obvious parenting strategy. However, it is not necessarily the best as it often cannot be sustained. There are other measures that are more effective.
Like children, adults also experienced excessive screen time during COVID. Given parents’ level of screen use is strongly associated with children’s screen use, getting our own screen time back under control is an important role model that children need to see. Here are three tips:
- Approach it together. One study from Denmark focused on all family members taking measures together to change their screen habits and the results were highly effective.
- Prepare for challenges. Important to the success of families in the study was that they were encouraged to talk about their expected challenges of reducing screen use and list potential solutions.
- Guide all elements of healthy screen use. Ensure parental guidance focuses on all three aspects of healthy device use: screen time, screen quality and screen buddies. This means keeping a eye on time spent on a device but also ensuring a child uses technology in a wide variety of positive ways, in varying social situations—sometimes independently but often with others.