SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Children’s screen time has doubled during the pandemic — and it hasn’t gone down since, according to new research. Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco say youngsters are spending almost eight hours a day looking at smartphones, tablets, and televisions, compared to less than four hours before COVID.
Concerningly, this figure does not include the time spent on computers for school work. Researchers focused completely on recreational activities like playing video games, chatting on social media, texting, surfing the internet, and watching or streaming movies and TV shows. Along with contributing to a more sedentary lifestyle, study authors say this shift is also affecting the mental health of many adolescents.
“As screen time increased, so did adolescents’ worry and stress, while their coping abilities declined,” says corresponding author Dr. Jason Nagata in a university release. “Though social media and video chat can foster social connection and support, we found that most of the adolescents’ screen use during the pandemic didn’t serve this purpose.”