Screen Time in the Coronavirus 2019 Era: International Trends of Increasing Use Among 3- to 7-Year-Old Children

Andrew Ribner*, Linsah Coulanges, Samantha Friedman, Melissa Libertus, I-FAM-Covid Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


To evaluate changes in electronic screen-based media use in 3- to 7-year-old children across 6 countries as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Study design
Between April and July 2020, parents of 2516 children completed online survey measures reporting current (“now”) and retrospective (“before the pandemic”) screen-based media use for the purposes of entertainment, educational app use, and socializing with family and friends. Parents also reported family socioeconomic characteristics and impacts of the pandemic to their physical wellbeing (eg, whether a family member or friend had been diagnosed with COVID-19) and social disruption (eg, whether family experienced a loss of income or employment due to the pandemic).

On average, children engaged with screens more than 50 minutes more during the pandemic than before. This was largely driven by increases in screen use for entertainment purposes (nearly 40 minutes) and for use of educational apps (over 20 minutes). There was no overall change in screen use for socializing with family and friends. Children from lower socioeconomic status households increased screen use both for entertainment and educational app use more so than did children from higher socioeconomic status households.

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has increased overall electronic screen-based media use. As lives become increasingly digital by necessity, further research is needed to better understand positive and negative consequences of electronic screen-based media use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66.e1
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Early online date28 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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