A year into the pandemic, parents are still struggling with screen time limits

A new survey shows screen time has had both pros and cons for families during the pandemic.

Parents are struggling with screen time limits a year into the pandemic.
@chris19/Twento20

Screens have become a huge part of our children's daily lives during the pandemic. Millions of kids across the country sit down at their computers every day to attend school remotely, hop on video chats to stay connected to loved ones, or spend time unwinding with a device in hand. A new survey conducted by the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston's Children Hospital found that parents are having trouble managing that screen time—and it's leading to conflicts with kids.


The survey polled more than 1,500 parents with kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. In just about every category—from television to watching videos on their devices to playing video games—around half of parents said their children's screen time increased over the course of the pandemic. About half also said it was causing more frequent arguments over screen usage. A third said those arguments were more severe than before the pandemic. For about a quarter of those parents, those arguments are happening on a daily basis.

Parents and kids alike have been so stressed by this pandemic, it's no surprise that screen time is up. But families who took part in the survey also said they saw some positives to their new screen-centric lives. A little more than half said they believed screen time had helped their children maintain their friendships, stay close to family members and even do well in school. It's even provided some opportunities for bonding, as about half of parents said they're watching television together with their kids more often than they used to.

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Screen time can be a huge source of worry and guilt for parents even in non-pandemic times. Our kids may be spending more time on their phones and computers than we'd like right now—but we're all just doing the best we can. Somedays, that's enough.

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