Most parents of preschool-going children aren’t aware of the amount of screentime their little ones get, reported a new study. Not just that, but the parents have no idea what these little kids were watching.

Amongst the other lifestyle changes brought down by the COVID-19 lockdown, most kids, these days are spending a lot more time on screens including smartphones, or tablet devices than they usually do.

“Children’s use of mobile and interactive media has increased rapidly over the past decade. Recent estimates reveal that the majority of parents own smartphones, on which they allow their children to play games or watch videos. Up to 75% of young children have their own tablets, and infants are estimated to start handling mobile devices during the first year of life, but research on modern media has been limited by a lack of precise measurement tools,” said the researchers in their paper published in the journal Pediatrics.

The Study:

The researchers recruited 346 English-speaking parents and guardians of kids in the age group 3-5. They used tracking apps that revealed usage information to a secure database.

Key findings of the study:

  • 35% of parents underestimated their child’s screen time
  • And another 35% overestimated their kid’s screen time
  • 85 different apps were used by these preschoolers and dozens of them were violent apps
  • Some of the content these kids were exposed to were intended for ages 17 and above
  • The most commonly used apps were YouTube, YouTube Kids, browsers, as well as streaming services like Netflix

According to the researchers, most parents have miscalculated their kids’ screen time and might also not be aware of what content is being shared or marketed while their little one is using their mobile device.

“This is an interesting and important study that has implications for future research on media device use. These findings suggest that actual monitoring of device use is needed to accurately capture the frequency with which kids are engaging devices because parent reporting is not very accurate. It has implications for counseling parents about media use for their young children,” Dr. Elizabeth Harstad, MPH, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts told Healthline.

screen time
young children's use of smartphones and tablets 46173, Pixabay