A recent study by Western University highlights the concerning impact of excessive screen time on children’s mental health. Emma Duerden, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Learning Disorders, led the research, emphasizing the need for parental intervention.
Alarming Findings Amidst Pandemic
The study, conducted from November 2020 to November 2021, gathered data from over 200 Canadian families during the pandemic. Results revealed a sharp increase in screen usage among children, leading to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Parental Stress and Screen Time Connection
Parental stress emerged as a key factor. Children exposed to prolonged screen time, particularly those with highly stressed parents, exhibited higher rates of anxiety and depression. The study underlines the reciprocal relationship between parents’ stress levels and children’s screen habits.
Recommendations for Responsible Screen Usage
Emma Duerden suggests practical steps to address the issue:
1. Stay Informed: Understand guidelines linking screen time and mental health.
2. Monitor Usage: Keep track of children’s screen exposure.
3. Create Screen-Free Zones: Designate areas in the home, especially bedrooms, for screen-free activities to safeguard sleep.
4. Scheduled Screen-Free Time: Allocate specific periods for screen-free interactions.
5. Lead by Example: Parents should model healthy screen behavior to encourage responsible usage.
Raising Awareness, Not Blame
Duerden stresses the importance of awareness, framing the issue as a public health concern. Instead of blaming parents, the focus is on sharing vital information for informed decisions about children’s screen habits.
Screen Time Guidelines
The Canadian Paediatric Society advises no screen time for children under two, except for interactive sessions. For ages two to five, daily screen time should be under an hour. Older children are recommended to have less than two hours of screen time daily.
Pandemic’s Lasting Impact
Duerden’s research shows children’s screen time tripled during the pandemic, even after restrictions eased. The study’s consistent high results highlight the need for ongoing attention to this global health issue.
As society grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, addressing excessive screen time becomes paramount. The study’s co-authors, Diane Seguin and Amira Hmidan, emphasize the urgency of this issue in today’s digital age.