During pandemic summer, tweens’ screen time and social media use increased
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of tweens faced pressure to keep their kids healthy, happy and socially connected in the face of social distancing restrictions. Many parents turned to screens and social media to help, suggests a study published in Psychology of Popular Media. Researchers surveyed 608 parents of nine- to 13-year-old children between July 9 and August 17, 2020, (93% of respondents were mothers and 95% were white). Participants answered questions about their children’s use of screen time, whether they had opened social media accounts for their kids and whether they had purchased any new devices for family use or specifically for their child. Overall, 83.7% of respondents said that their tweens were getting more screen time than before the pandemic, and 19.5% said that they had created a social media account for their child during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic gender divides continued — for example, boys were more likely to play video games and open Discord accounts, and girls were more likely to watch videos and open TikTok accounts. Parents who reported more worry about the pandemic also reported higher amounts of media use for their children. This is consistent with previous research that has found that children who live in less safe neighborhoods spend more time on screens, according to the researchers. In both cases, safety worries that keep children inside led to more screen time. Future research should continue to track tweens’ media use as they adjust to a post-pandemic world, to better understand the implications that increased media use and earlier social media use at this critical age could have on tweens’ lives, according to the researchers.
Article: “Parenting and Tweens’ Media Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” (PDF, 142KB) by Nancy A. Jennings, PhD, University of Cincinnati; and Allison G. Caplovitz, PhD, Technology and Education Consulting Associates, Austin, Texas. Psychology of Popular Media, published online November 29, 2021.