The last two years have certainly seen some changes when it comes to our attitude and reliance on technology. For many of us, both adults and children, it has been our lifeline for work, school, social interactions, and more. At Zeeko, we were curious what effect this might be having on young people. Are young people spending more time online or less? Is the additional reliance on technology affecting their relationship with the internet?

Every year at Zeeko we conduct a Digital Trend Report with schools across Ireland. Our aim is to get a better sense of young people’s attitudes towards the internet and technology. To compile the report, we pulled 500 responses from 2019 and 500 from 2020 and came across an interesting statistic we are excited to share with you.

Unsurprisingly the amount of time young people have been spending using screens has increased during the pandemic. Between school; chatting with friends and family, and; entertainment while being stuck at home, we have all seen an increase in our screentime over the last year and a half. But, interestingly, the amount of young people that said they spend 5+ hours a day on screens has decreased both during the week and on weekends.

According to the report, the percentage of children that spend 5 hours or more a day using a screen during the week has decreased from 14% Pre Pandemic to 10% Post March 2020. And the number of children that spent 5 or more hours a day using a screen during the weekend has decreased from 25% to 21%.

There are countless articles that have been published in the last 18 months about how Covid has impacted children’s screentime. While we did find through our research, as many others did, that overall screentime has increased, we wanted to share a more balanced view of the data. Overall, between pre and post-Covid excessive screen use (5+ hours a day) has decreased for 3rd-6th class students.  That is interesting!

The negative impacts of too much screentime have been well researched. It can cause disruptions to sleep, impact mood and cause eye strain. However, as more and more of society relies so heavily on the internet, the use of screens is becoming more and more prevalent. Instead of focusing on the negative impacts of screentime, let’s focus on teaching young people how to manage their relationships with screens and teach them mindful use of devices so they can succeed in our technology-focused world. The internet and screens are amazing tools but as with everything, an excess can lead to problems. Managing screentime is so important if we want to help young people build healthy relationships with screens. It's about balance and understanding the pressures and expectations of our modern society. It is unlikely that any of us could go a day without looking at a screen. So, let’s make sure we are realistic in our views on screentime and approach managing screentime in a mindful way. And hopefully, we can see the trend of informed and balanced use of screens, continue.

What can you do to help manage your child’s screentime?

  • Use the Zeeko 5:1 Rule: The 5:1 Rule is one that we have pioneered at Zeeko as a very effective way of helping children to achieve a balance in their use of screens. For every one hour spent using a screen, this should be balanced with 5 hours of real-world activity. This means activities that don’t involve screens.
  • Start with small steps: At Zeeko we strongly believe that confiscation or removing screens as a punishment is counterproductive. It is far more effective to sit down together and have an open conversation about the use of screens by everyone in the family.
  • Encourage and promote no screens for at least an hour before bedtime: Screens emit a blue light that affects the melatonin levels in our brains, effectively meaning that screens stimulate our brains.
  • Creating a digital contract for everyone in the family: It will help everyone to consider their use of tech.

For more details on the above points check out this post on managing screentime and this one on building a digital contract.

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If you are interested in getting your own FREE digital trend report to help reduce internet issues in your school, click here.