The number of hours spent looking at the screen of their television, computer, tablet or smartphone increased across all ages, but especially among children aged 6 to 10, a recent study shows.
The largest spike in screen time was recorded among primary school-aged children from 6 to 10 years old, who spent an average of 1 hour and 23 minutes (83 minutes) per day more than before the pandemic looking at a screen.
Over-18s followed this and adolescents (11-17 years old), whose screen time increased by almost an hour: 58 minutes and 55 minutes, respectively. The screen time of young children under 5 increased the least, going up by ‘only’ 35 minutes.
“This study is the foremost of its type to look in a systematic way at peer-reviewed research papers on jump in screen time during the pandemic and its impact,” said the study’s senior author and professor at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK, Shahina Pardhan.
Researchers analysed 89 different studies from countries including the US, Australia, France, Chile and Israel, focusing on increases in screen time before & during the pandemic, giving a total sample size of over 200,000 people.
“By bringing together several studies, we get a much more accurate picture of screen time among the population and its associated health repercussions,” she added. “The overall picture provides clear proof that screen time should be reduced wherever possible to minimise potential negative outcomes.”
Among children, jump in screen time were found to be linked with inferior diet, poor eye health, deteriorating mental health (including anxiety) as well as behavioural problems such as aggression, irritability and the increased frequency of temper tantrums.