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Image / Parenthood

Research finds kid’s screentime went up 83 minutes a day during covid. Mums everywhere sigh.


By Amanda Cassidy
24th Jun 2022
Research finds kid’s screentime went up 83 minutes a day during covid. Mums everywhere sigh.

Research has found that screen time rose during the pandemic, mostly among primary schoolchildren, by an extra hour and 20 minutes a day on average. The sharp rise, according to the global body of research, has prompted calls for action to curb the harmful affects on millions of children, including poor eye health, deteriorating mental health, irritability and temper tantrums.

If you listen closely you’ll hear mums everywhere screaming into the abyss. Following the headlines run across media, parents reacted with thinly-veiled frustration.

“The presentation of this research makes me want to scream,” wrote columnist Hannah Fearne. “Of course they did because their parents were trying to WORK at the same time. They were learning something while watching. It was a subsitute in a crisis”

She continued. “Short of every child worldwide being provided with a live-in tutor or every parent being furloughed on a full time wage for the whole of the pandemic, what exactly was the solution?”

“Absolutely idiotic,” agreed Martha Hansen. “Linking this as the *cause* of negative health impacts is also ludicrous. OF COURSE ‘sedentary behaviour’ increased. They couldn’t play outside for months at a time! ”

According to the research carried out by Anglia Ruskin University, the biggest daily increase in screen time was among those aged between six and 10. But “significant” increases were seen among all age groups including adults.

The report, carried in The Guardian found that all age groups increased their total screen time. “Primary-aged children reported largest increases, followed by adults, adolescents, and young children. Leisure screen time also increased in all age groups, with primary-aged children reporting the largest increases, followed by adults, young children and adolescents.”

Many took to social media to express their frustration and frank surprise that it was only by 83 minutes.

“Ok so the research itself says there was a *correlation* during the pandemic between increased screen time and increased mental health and sleep issues. Which just means the two things happened together.” wrote one Twitter user.

AatKin added her voice. “Also they weren’t allowed to go out & play. Many people don’t have a garden. We weren’t allowed in parks. Have these judgy judgerson researchers ever tried entertaining a child locked in a flat for 24 hours a day? I’m surprised it’s only 83 minutes a day tbh. Hats off, parents.”

Researchers analysed 89 studies from countries including the UK, US, Australia, France, Chile and Israel. The analysis focused on increases in screen time before and during the pandemic, in detail, covering a total sample size of more than 200,000 people.

Lead researcher Dr Shahina Pardhan said. “By bringing together numerous studies, we get a much more accurate picture of screen time among the population and its associated health repercussions.

As with any study of this type, there are degrees of variability between the research looked at. However, the overall picture provides clear evidence that screen time should be reduced wherever possible to minimise potential negative outcomes. These include adverse dietary behaviours, sleep, mental health and eye health effects.”

‘Kids who had to do all school work on screen in increased screentime shocker,’ jested author Laura Pearson. “Just waiting for all the reasons why it’s the fault of mums.”

“I rarely agree with “no shit Sherlock” takes when research is reported, as I tend to think it’s helpful to prove things that people assume to be true – but this is an exception because of how ridiculously it is being presented!” said Ellie Elliott.

“83 minutes? Have they missed a digit?” joked Hilary Burket.