Study: Screentime effects on school aged children only minor
With COVID-19 seeing children in doors more, and studying from home until recently, screen time is something parents have had to consider.
A recent study from the University of Colorado looking into screentime in school aged children found that school-aged children who spend more time in front of screens are only slightly more likely to have attention disorders, disturbed sleep, or lower grades and are no more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
The study is one of the largest into the effects of screentime on children.
Lead author Katie Paulich is a PhD student in The University of Colorado’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.
“These findings suggest that we should be mindful of screens, but that screen time is likely not inherently harmful to our youth,” Ms Paulich said.
Senior author John Hewitt is the director of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.
“A number of papers in recent years have suggested that screen time might be harmful for children, but there have also been some reviews that suggest those negative effects have been overestimated,” Dr Hewitt said.
“Using this extensive data set, we found that yes, there are relationships between screen time and negative outcomes, but they are not large and not dire.”
According to the study, the influence of screentime was minute compared to other factors shaping children’s lives.
For instance, the study found that a child’s socioeconomic status had 2.5 times greater impact on behavioural outcomes. Of all the influences assessed, screentime accounted for only about two percent of the variation between kids in the outcomes measured.
The research was published in the 8 September edition of PLOS ONE.
It also found that screentime had a potential upside, as children who spent more time with screens had more close friends.
The study looked at youth aged 9 and 10, so the findings don’t necessarily apply to children outside of this aged group. The researchers intend to follow the group over time.
As with all results from a single study, the results should be taken as initial, and more research is needed to gain a better picture of the overall effects of screentime.