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Screen time among children increased by 4 hours during the pandemic

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Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    26 December 2022

The Covid pandemic saw a shift in education when children switched from physical classes to virtual classrooms. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics has found that the average daily screen time increased by more than 4 hours during the Covid-19 pandemic. Children spent 84 minutes extra on their devices, mobile phones and/or computers. The increase was most evident in the age group 12 to 18 years.

 

After a comprehensive search of databases (Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) between January 2020 and March 2022, 46 studies involving 29,017 children were included in the analysis. The main outcome measure was the change in daily screen time from before the pandemic vs during the pandemic.

 

The baseline screen time, before the pandemic, was 162 minutes daily or 2.7 hours in a day. During the pandemic, this increased by 84 minutes per day (1.4 hours daily) amounting to an increase in screen time of 52%. This “corresponds to a daily mean of 246 minutes of screen time per day (4.1 h/d) across all children and adolescents during the pandemic”. Those in the age group 12-18 years showed a significant increase of 110 minutes daily (~2 hours). The average time spent on screens during study period was nearly 7 hours, which is much more than that recommended. The increase with handheld devices was 44 minutes; for personal computers, the increase was 47 minutes daily. The total screen time combining both educational and recreation use also saw an increase (mean) of 68 minutes per day and 84 minutes per day for recreation use alone.

 

Reference

 

  1. Madigan S, et al. Assessment of changes in child and adolescent screen time during the covid-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2022 Dec 1;176(12):1188-1198

 

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