Young children’s media use during the pandemic

A small study from Ohio in the United States of 151 low-income caregivers of children aged 3 to 6 found that the children spent more than six hours a day in front of screens during May and June, 2020.

This is nearly double the screen time found before the pandemic in similar children, according to other research. The researchers conclude that, ‘increased screen time may be particularly concerning for children from low-income households who had higher levels even before the pandemic’ although the study also found that some of the time using media was spent positively watching educational videos and connecting with friends and family. One explanation for increased screen-time may be that caregivers from low-income households faced more difficulties than those from advantaged families in managing the time their children spent watching TV and using computers, phones and tablets during shutdown.

Children living in families with more children had higher levels of screen time, perhaps reflecting the pressures that confront caregivers with larger families. Girls spent more time than boys using media to connect with family and friends. The lead researcher recommends that caregivers should be encouraged to provide more support to boys in maintaining relationships through technology when they can’t meet in person.

It is not clear whether the high levels of media use found in this study would also have been found in higher-income families over the same two months.

Read more: Dore, R. et al. (2021) media use among kindergarteners from low-income households during the COVID-19 shutdown. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. DOI:

Relevant article in the IJBPE:

Radesky, J.S., Rosenblum, K. (2019) A relationship-based framework for early childhood media use. IJBPE, Volume 6, Issue 4:7-12.


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