Not all 'screen time' is the same

Experts are once again sounding the alarm on children's increase in time spent on social medial platforms since the COVID-19 pandemic. “The huge number of kids using social when they’re so young — it makes me want to cry. These social media apps are not designed for children” said an Diana Graber, the founder of Cyberwise according to an article on the New York Times.


Hours per day spent on screens for entertainment has increased significantly since pre-pandemic 2019

The disruptions to lifestyles caused by COVID lockdowns, home-based learning and reduced social activities has led to teens and tweens spending much more time at home and on their mobile phones. Assuming that the average child is awake 15 hours a day, tweens (8-12 year-old) spend >35% and teens (13-18 year-old) spend a shocking >60% of their waking hours on screens.

 

Data shows that children do not spend time video-calling their friends & family to replace social interactions

In the workforce, physical meetings have mainly been replaced by video calls and one could argue that the increased screen that that kids spend replaces the physical social interactions with their friends that are now restricted. However the data shows us the sobering truth. Time spent on video calls was a mere 10-20 mins per day.

 

Children are spending much more time watching YouTube videos, social media and gaming

With much more screen time spent watching online videos, games and social media, the reality is that children have gotten more distant from their friends. Above that they are spending time on platforms that may not be designed to be child-safe.

 

The trends are worrying, but the pandemic normalization will give us an opportunity to realign how children spend their time

As the world learns to live with COVID, we see an opportunity to realign how children spend their time. As Dr. Heitner said in the New York Times article, screen time is "worry(ing) if it’s replacing activities, like sleep, family time, reading, chores — other things that are positive for kids. That’s definitely a real concern.”

 

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