Child screen time returned to pre-pandemic levels quickly, except for children in poverty

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

The amount of time young children spent in front of screens increased during the pandemic in 2020 and while that increase subsided for most in 2021 it has remained high for children in poverty, according to international research. The team used data from an online and mail survey to look at screen time from 2018-2021 among nearly 50,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years old. They say the amount of children using screens for more than an hour a day increased during 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019 before dropping in 2021. Children aged 3-5 who had two or more hours a day of screen time were likely to have lower psychological well-being than those with an hour of daily screen time, the researchers add.

Journal/conference: JAMA Network Open

Link to research (DOI): 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.54488

Organisation/s: Northwestern University, USA

Funder: This research was supported by US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Media release

From: JAMA

About The Study: In this multiyear cross-sectional study of a representative sample of young children in the U.S., the increased prevalence of high screen time in 2020 returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021; however, it remained elevated in children living in poverty. Two hours or more of daily screen time was associated with lower psychological well-being among preschool-aged children.


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