Elementary school-age children saw the largest increase in pandemic screen time use

Elementary school-age children saw the largest increase in pandemic screen time use

Children aged six to 10 had the largest daily increase in screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic, new research suggests (PA) (PA Archive)

Children aged six to 10 had the largest daily increase in screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic, new research suggests (PA) (PA Archive)

Children between the ages of six and 10 have had the biggest daily increase in screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic, new research suggests.

But increases were observed in all age groups, including adults, the study found.

According to scientists from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), prolonged viewing of screens such as televisions or computers has been associated with negative effects on diet, sleep, mental health and eye health.

Elementary school-age children saw the biggest increases at 83 minutes per day.

However, the overall picture clearly shows that screen time should be reduced whenever possible to minimize potential negative consequences

Professor Shahina Pardhan, ARU

It was followed by adults, whose screen time increased by 58 minutes, and teens (aged 11 to 17) who increased their screen time by 55 minutes.

The study found that children under the age of five increased their screen time the least, by 35 minutes.

Lead author Professor Shahina Pardhan, Director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) at ARU, said: “This study is the first of its kind to examine systematically peer-reviewed research on increasing screen time during the pandemic and its impact on impact.

“By bringing together numerous studies, we get a much more accurate picture of screen time in the population and the associated health effects.

“As with any study of this type, there are differences between the research findings examined.

“However, the overall picture clearly shows that screen time should be reduced whenever possible to minimize potential negative consequences.

“These include poor dietary behaviors, sleep, mental health and effects on eye health.

“It is also important that non-sedentary activities are encouraged to reduce the risk of prolonged screen time.”

The researchers analyzed in detail 89 different studies that focused on increasing screen time before and during the pandemic, yielding a total sample size of more than 200,000 people.

The study also looked at types of screen time and found that recreational screen time or screen time unrelated to work or study also increased across all age groups.

Children between the ages of six and ten again showed the largest increase.

Increased screen time has been found to be associated with poorer diet in children, poor eye health, worsening mental health including anxiety, and behavioral problems such as aggression, irritability, and increased frequency of temper tantrums.

The research also identified links between more screen time and negative adult outcomes.

These included adverse effects on diet, eye health, mental health such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, and overall health including fatigue, reduced physical activity and weight gain.

The study is published in eClinicalMedicine, part of The Lancet Discovery Science journal.

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