The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
New research from the Faculty of Education has found a link between screen time and anxiety and depression in children.
The study, led by assistant professor of education and Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Learning Disorders Emma Duerden, also found children were on screens for more than double the daily recommended amount during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duerden, who leads the Developing Brain research program, co-authored the study alongside Diane Seguin and Amira Hmidan.
Published in BMC Psychology, the study builds off previous research by Duerden that found children’s screen time use skyrocketed during the pandemic to an average of just under six hours per day. Some children in the earlier study were on their screens for a staggering 13 hours per day—nearly every waking minute.
“We were pretty astounded by these findings, but of course this was a period of crisis for everyone,” Duerden said.
“At that time, it seemed as though this could potentially be an isolated period, so that’s why we decided to launch the COMPASS study—COVID-19 Managing Parent Attitudes and School Stress.”
COMPASS gathered data from more than 200 parents who detailed their children’s screen time use from November 2020 to November 2021.
COMPASS also found that greater screen time use was associated with anxiety and depression in children.
While other studies have shown that screen time can have adverse effect on children’s mental health, Duerden says it was surprising to see such a strong association.
“What we also found consistently in all of our studies was that parent stress was a key predictor of screen time,” Duerden added.
“We don’t understand that association yet, it can only be inferred.”