HealthDay News — Screen time among children increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and remained elevated after public health precautions were lifted, according to a study published online in JAMA Network Open.
Monique M. Hedderson, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues assessed how screen time changed as the pandemic progressed among 228 children (aged 4 to 12 years). Screen time use was compared for a prepandemic period (July 2019 to March 2020), pandemic period 1 (December 2020 to April 2021), and pandemic period 2 (May 2021 to August 2021).
The researchers found that prepandemic mean total screen time was 4.4 hours per day, which increased 1.75 hours per day in the first pandemic period and 1.11 hours per day in the second pandemic period. For recreational screen time, usage was 4 hours per day prepandemic, which increased 0.89 hours per day in the first pandemic period and 0.70 hours per day in the second pandemic period. For educational screen time, prepandemic mean time was 0.5 hours per day, which increased 0.93 hours per day in the first pandemic period and 0.46 hours per day in the second pandemic period.
“Families may need support to re-establish healthy screen time usage and healthy behaviors as the pandemic continues,” the authors write. “Pediatricians may need to provide more guidance and strategies regarding healthy screen time usage for children’s health and well-being.”