- Most kids are being glued to mobile phones due to COVID-19 social distancing
- Staying indoors and feeling too bored can make even active kids spend more time with digital devices such as mobile phone, laptop and TV
- Increasing family time is the best way to limit your child’s screen time
Being confined within the four walls of the house during this COVID-19 lockdown can make even active kids get addicted to smartphone, television (TV), laptop and iPhone. Therefore, parents should keep kids busy by increasing family time to cut down child's screen time.
New research from University of California, Davis, suggests that parents should delay introducing their children to any screen media, as well as limit preschool-age children's use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics this week. Over a two-and-a-half-year period, researchers assessed 56 children aged 32 to 47 months and surveyed their parents. The research team assessed children's self-regulation skills, or those skills needed to plan, control, and monitor their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Young children's self-regulation skills predict later academic success, social functioning, physical and mental health, income, and criminality.
"Young children are often exposed to substantial amounts of screen media. Even though consumption of moderate amounts of high-quality children's media has been established to have a positive influence on development, the current findings support limiting children's use of mobile devices," said the study's primary author, Amanda C. Lawrence, a doctoral candidate in the Human Development Graduate Group at UC Davis. Co-authors are Daniel Ewon Choe, assistant professor of human development and family studies, and Madhuri S. Narayan, who was an undergraduate student when working on the research.
Devices also Limit Interaction Time
A team of researchers voiced other reasons for cautious use of mobile devices by young children. "The portable nature of mobile devices allows them to be used in any location, such as while waiting for appointments, or in line at a grocery store. The screen use, then, could interfere with sensitive and responsive interactions with parents or practicing self-soothing behaviors that support optimal development," said Lawrence.
The research team recruited participants by handing out flyers at preschools and community events. Data were collected between July 1, 2016, and Jan. 11, 2019. During individual 90-minute visits to an on-campus research laboratory, children were asked to complete 10 tasks to evaluate their ability to self-regulate. Tasks were as varied as walking a line slowly, taking turns with the researcher in building a tower out of blocks, and delaying gratification -- for example, being asked to hold off unwrapping a gift while the researcher briefly left the room. Parents were asked about screen use using a novel survey designed by Lawrence, and researchers calculated the children's reported age at first use of screen media and average time spent per week on each device.
Other findings include:
- There was substantial variation in the amount of time children spent with screen media devices in the average week in this community sample. Screen time for traditional devices (television, computers) ranged from 0 to 68 hours per week, and 0 to 14 hours per week for mobile devices (tablets, smartphones).
- Children's screen time in the average week was not related to their family's income in this sample, but children growing up in higher-income households started using mobile devices at a younger age than lower-income households.
- Screen time also did not differ by racial/ethnic minority status in this sample.
This is a small study, but the beginning of a long-term longitudinal study of children's development of self-regulation and looking at all screen media devices over multiple years with more children and parents, researchers said.
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Adeline Dorcas. "COVID-19 Lockdown: Increase Family Time to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/covid-19-lockdown-increase-family-time-to-limit-your-childs-screen-time-194110-1.htm. (accessed Sep 26, 2022).
Adeline Dorcas. 2021. COVID-19 Lockdown: Increase Family Time to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time. Medindia, viewed Sep 26, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/covid-19-lockdown-increase-family-time-to-limit-your-childs-screen-time-194110-1.htm.