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Increased screen time has ill effects on physical, mental health of children: Study

Post by on Monday, June 27, 2022

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Srinagar, June 26: Increased screen time has ill effects on physical and mental health of children, a study by Government Medical College Srinagar on impact of screen time on children during Covid-19 pandemic has revealed.
The present scenario in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to fore the need to revisit the concept of screen time from a health perspective, the study says.
An online survey was conducted to study the screen time in children during the Covid-19 pandemic. The online Google Forms were shared through various social media sites and parents were asked to fill out the forms. A total of 307 responses were received and analyzed.
The data was collected using an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was developed and pretested in a pilot study on 20 parents having children who were using the electronic screen for online classes, homework, or recreational activities.
“The maximum numbers of children belonged to the age group of 6-10 years and mostly were males (56.1 percent). Phone (68.7 percent) was the most commonly used device. 54.4 percent children didn’t own an electronic device,” said the study conducted by four researchers of GMC Srinagar.
It said approximately 62.9 percent parents considered that their children were addicted to phone while 53.1 percent parents agreed that maximum screen time without causing any health concerns should be less than 2 hours.
The research results said approximately 94.5 percent of parents consider that increased screen time affected the physical health of the children and 94.1 percent of parents consider that increased screen time affected the mental health of children.
Similarly, 61.6 percent parents considered that the increased screen time decreased the academic ability of children. It said the usage of smart devices/phones in children may lead to less concentration on other things and thus more dependencies to online gaming.
“We saw 64.5 percent of parents reported that they do not prefer online applications for the education of the children, whereas 20.2 percent of parents said that they prefer online applications and 15.3 percent of parents were not sure about the usage of online educational applications,” the research said.
The pandemic led to shift of the educational system of the nations to the online mode from the conventional school mode due to the lockdown and restrictions.
“Approximately 94.5 percent of parents were in agreement with the fact that the increased screen-time or increased use of smartphones was affecting the physical health of the children, whereas only 5.5 percent were not in agreement with this,” said the study.
The use of smart devices/phones leads to more often sedentary behaviour, less exercising, less physical activity, and thus increased obesity and adiposity in the longer run.
The online mode of education has thus led the children to use of smartphones more and thus increases screen time. “More educational applications installed in smartphones automatically leads to more time spent on the smart devices.”
“The increased screen-time leads to digital strain to the eyes, headaches, and sleep deprivation and thus affecting physical health. Similar findings were reported in some other studies,” it said.
The study said that the use of smart devices/phones lead to poor concentration and emotional and mood instability and poor self-control. “The user may also be associated with anxiety and depression and poor interpersonal relationships,” the study said.
The study said that less physical fitness as more urge to spend time with their personal device has disrupted sleep schedule among the children besides the strain due to screen light, all affect the physical health.
“There is a need to look beyond the absolute amount of time children and adolescents spend looking at the digital screens. It is important to have a well-thought approach to the role of the Internet and digital devices in teaching and learning,” the study suggested.


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