Teens’ well-being suffered when their screen time increased drastically during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a recent study.
During The Pandemic, Adolescent Screen Time In The United States Doubled.
According to the survey, recreational screen time among American teenagers increased before the outbreak to over eight hours per day during the pandemic. The researchers added that because this estimate excludes time spent using screens for remote learning or education, the total was likely substantially greater.
An assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Jason Nagata said, “more screen usage was linked to poorer mental health and increased stress among youths,”.
“While social media and video chat can be utilized to enhance social connection, we discovered that youth who used their screens more during the epidemic felt less social support,” Nagata remarked.
The findings are based on a study of over 5,000 adolescents in the United States, the majority of whom are between the ages of 12 and 13.
The time spent by teenagers playing games, texting, using social media, video chatting, surfing the internet, and watching or streaming movies, videos, or television shows were examined by Nagata’s team.
While all respondents’ screen usage increased, the poll found that Black teens, Hispanic teens, and those from lower-income households spend more time on screens than others. This could be due to a lack of funds for other activities or a lack of safe outdoor locations, according to Nagata.
Regardless of the causes for the increase, Nagata advises parents to keep a close eye on their children.
“While screen time can have major educational benefits during the pandemic,” he noted, “parents should aim to reduce the negative mental health concerns associated with excessive screen time.”
Parents should talk to their teenagers about screen time frequently, according to Nagata, and build a family media plan. Setting restrictions, encouraging screen-free time, and avoiding devices before bedtime are all examples of this.
Despite this, he is not optimistic that screen time will decrease as the pandemic progresses.
Children and Screens, based in Jericho, New York, is the brainchild and president of Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, who studies the effects of digital media on children and adolescents.
She went over the statistics and noted that non-school-related screen use had increased by roughly four hours per day.
“Their findings also match the earlier pre-pandemic studies demonstrating screen time discrepancies among the pediatric population demographically,” Pietra added. “The most alarming finding was that Black and Hispanic children spent over 30% more time watching television than their white counterparts.”
She found that more screen time was linked to worse mental health and higher reported stress, while more social support and coping skills were linked to lower overall screen use.
Though the study had flaws, such as the fact that youth self-reported their screen use and the fact that their social support before the epidemic was unknown, Pietra believes the findings offer light on what could be a rising and unhealthy trend.
Another expert expressed interest in examining how these findings compare to those of other research currently being conducted.
“Because overall screen use in this cohort has increased so much,” said Ellen Wartella, a communications professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., “we should review how robust this conclusion is in some of the other studies being performed at this time.”