Children's Screen Time During the Pandemic Alarms Researchers

Photo: (Photo : Unsplash/Tim Gouw)

The amount of children's screen time has been continuously alarming to parents and researchers. Due to the pandemic, many parents have relaxed restrictions about their children's digital use. It has helped keep both parents and children entertained and engaged due to the lockdown for nearly a year. 

An addiction expert and Stanford University professor of psychology, Keith Humphreys, explained that there would be a withdrawal period. He said that kids would need to sustain normal interaction attention without getting hit too often. 

Harder to break a habit

The brain of children through adolescence could adapt and shift to changing circumstances, according to scientists. It could help them adjust to an offline world, but it would take a long time the longer they spend time using gadgets. 

A University of Michigan pediatrician studying children's mobile technology use, Dr. Jenny Radesky, said that parents should not feel guilty when they allow too much screen time due to the lockdown. 

READ: Children Play: Traditional Toys Beat Gadgets, Study Proves

Turn off WiFi after school

What she suggested instead is that parents turn the WiFi off during off-school hours so kids would not be tempted to use gadgets the whole day. She explained that the long hours spent playing with cellphones, the harder it is to break the habit. 

Besides longer gadget use, kids ages nine to 12 are mostly playing Roblox, besides Fortnite, TikTok, and Snapchat. During the first nine months of 2020, there is an increase of 82 percent users playing with Roblox a day. 

According to Qustodio, children's screen time was twice its number by May than the year before that. Worldwide, kids ages four to 15 have been using devices tracked by a company. In March and April, kids spent 97 minutes a day on YouTube, and up to 57 minutes in February. 

READ: 6 Surefire Ways to Handle Screen Addiction

The company calls it "The COVID Effect," which meant the month-by-month increase in screen time. The reason kids spend more time on screen was that they use it for entertainment or activities.

Negative effects of too much gadget use

Seattle Children's Research Institute Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development Director, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, explained how it badly affects the children. He said that it could lead to depression, anxiety, obesity, aggression, and addiction to gadgets. 

According to research, heavy internet uses are not exactly to blame, but the poor substitute to children's health, social, and physical development is the cause. Dr. Humphreys called what people are doing right now, "bundling". 

READ: 6 Alarming Signs that Your Child is Developing Screen Addiction

He said that because people have to depend on the devices for social life, school, gaming, and other activities in life. He believes many have a hard time separating the good from the bad effects.

Dr. Radesky said that using gadgets allow children to "escape" any uncomfortable situation they face. She said that they could watch videos or chat with friends when they are bored with schoolwork. 

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