Young People's Screentime and it's Health Implications
Whilst there has rightly been a focus on the mental health of young people during the Covid 19 pandemic, there are other long-term impacts to their health that are not as in the public eye.
With students in both primary and secondary education being forced into online learning, and the inability to socialise outside due to lockdown, the amount of time being spent online has skyrocketed. Qustodio, who track online habits of children across multiple countries, found that UK web and app visits had increased by more than 100% since January 2020, and that average daily time spent on apps had risen by 15%. This was likely spurred by rapid growth of YouTube and TikTok popularity during lockdown, as well as more frequent checking of social media and news apps for Covid 19 updates.
Despite Gen Z being the most comfortable generation online, they still have a desire to interact face to face, which has been completely prevented during the pandemic. There is a real fear amongst parents, and in the scientific community, around the impact this increased screen time will have on young people’s social skills, as well as their physical health. Whilst the pandemic has highlighted the benefits of technology and the ability to stay connected with friends and colleagues alike, it has exacerbated issues around physical and mental health. Increased screen time is being reported by the Royal College of Paediatricians to be negatively impacting sleep patterns in young children, having knock on effects on mood throughout the day.
The long-term impact on eyesight is one that is already being researched extensively in China, with a reported three-fold increase in short sightedness in children between 6 and 8 years old. Similar research is being undertaken in the UK, with similar results expected. With chances to do physical exercise and meet up with friends non-existent, and children spending huge amounts of time online, there are concerns surrounding the impact on their social skills when we finally leave the lockdown.
As we come to the end of half term in the UK – a week where children are usually out meeting up with their friends – children are preparing to return back to remote learning. Rightly so in their minds, little has changed between the two weeks, and they are left hoping for schools to reopen as soon as possible.
Our recent young people’s tracker looked at the impact of the pandemic on remote learning, experience of lockdown, and much more. To find out more about this, and young people’s behaviours and attitudes on a wide variety of topics, contact Helen or Afra (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com).