Kids’ screen time is increasing at the fastest rate in four years

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kids screen time increases
kids screen time increases

Isolation from peers and other reasons contributed to a large rise in screen use among tweens and teens during the pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic levels.In March, Common Sense Media, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of all children and families, presented a detailed research demonstrating that screen use in 2021 will expand far faster than in the preceding four years. Tween usage has increased sixfold in the last two years.

The epidemic was most certainly a major factor in the shift in screen usage. According to the study, platforms like TikTok have grown in popularity and may be driving higher use.

As society began to open up again in the fall of 2021, researchers wanted to see if there were any long-term variations in young people’s use of screen media. They looked at how much time tweens (ages 8 to 12) and adolescents (ages 13 to 18) spent on digital devices when they weren’t performing online coursework or assignments.

In terms of the sorts of devices used, the results suggest no significant changes in overall patterns of media usage by tweens and teens. As social media use grew across younger age groups, the amount of time kids spend on non-school screen activities increased considerably.
Online videos have solidified their position atop young people’s media pyramids. During the epidemic, however, video gaming did not significantly grow. Online videos, gaming, and social media remain the most popular pastimes. Furthermore, the general patterns between tweens and teens, or males and girls, have remained consistent.

The media can be utilised for good or for bad. According to Mike Robb, vulnerable children are overusing media or using it in ways that contribute to mental health difficulties.

“We have to be able to spot those youngsters and help them.” However, some children use media to maintain a positive attitude, connect with peers, or assist their mental health. He told TechNewsWorld, “We need to make sure we’re not automatically condemning all screen time.””It truly depends on who uses it, what they use it for, and what requirements they’re trying to serve.”

Findings on Media Use
When compared to the last media use survey prior to the pandemic in 2019, the report discovered eight notable findings. According to James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, the study is the only nationally representative poll tracking media consumption habits among a truly random sample of eight to 18-year-olds in the United States.

In addition to the aforementioned findings, researchers discovered:

  • Teens say that if they had to choose, they would not want to live without YouTube. In fact, boys and girls of all racial/ethnic groupings and financial levels agree that watching online videos is their favourite media pastime.
  • Children aged eight to twelve are increasingly using social media. Tweens used social media in 38% of cases (up from 31 percent in 2019). Nearly one-fifth of respondents (18%) stated they currently use social media on a daily basis (up from 13 percent since 2019).
  • Teens now spend about an hour and a half per day on social media, but their opinions on the platform are mixed. Despite the fact that teenagers spend a lot of time on social media,
  • Instagram (53 percent), Snapchat (49 percent), Facebook (30 percent), Discord (17 percent), and Twitter are the top five social media sites that teens have ever used (16 percent).
  • The amount of screen media that tweens and teens watch on a daily basis varies significantly. Boys watch more television than girls. White children utilise less than Black and Hispanic/Latino children. Lower-income children use more than those from higher-income families.
  • Except for one source, children absorbed more media during the pandemic than before 2019, with the exception of reading.

     

  • Nearly half of all teenagers said they listen to podcasts at least once a week, and one in five said they do so every week. They interact with a diverse range of media.
  • Many Black, Hispanic/Latino youngsters living in low-income households still lack access to a computer at home. This is one of the most fundamental components of digital equity.

 

Alarming Findings

Robb was impressed by the dramatic rise in screen time in the two years since the epidemic compared to the four years prior. Tweens’ media consumption increased by only 3% from 2015 to 2019. It increased by 11% among teenagers.

However, tweens and teens’ media consumption increased by about 20% from 2019 to 2021. For tweens alone, this is about six times the growth seen before the pandemic.

“I’m especially struck by the fact that 38% of tweens have accessed social media, despite the fact that most platforms are not intended for children under the age of 13,” he added.

According to Robb, what kids do with media is just as significant as how much time they spend with it. He believes we don’t need to worry about time as much if kids are using good content, using technology to socialise and hang out with their peers, and using technology to express themselves.

“I am concerned when television use replaces key tasks such as socialising, spending quality time with family, or resting,” he stated.

Expert Opinion

The lack of significant expansions of new tablet and smartphone distributions among tweens and teens astonished the researchers. According to them, the survey shows that this did not occur.

“A little trend toward the use of social media at a younger age is beginning to emerge.” “Given the continuing arguments over the impact of social media on young people’s well-being,” they concluded, “this is particularly interesting.”

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