Master of Arts
Duerden, E G.
Parents with school-aged children have experienced numerous hardships during the 2020-2021 academic school year, including school closures, lockdowns, and travel restrictions. Higher levels of parent stress and screen time may adversely impact children’s behavioural outcomes. This longitudinal survey study examined the associations of parent stress, parenting styles, and prolonged screentime on internalizing and externalizing behaviours in school-aged children. Parents (n = 108) completed survey measures at two time points over the 2020-2021 academic school year. Two generalized estimating equations were performed. There was a significant positive interaction between parent stress and screen time (B = < .001; p = .001) on children’s internalizing behaviours. Parent stress was positively associated with externalizing behaviours (B = 0.43, p < .001). These findings indicate that parent stress and screen time are key risk factors for child mental health. Targeted family intervention plans may be essential to curtailing parent stress and screen time use.
Summary for Lay Audience
Children’s screen time activity has increased significantly during the pandemic. Extended school closures and heightened parent stress are associated with children’s behavioural difficulties and time spent watching screens. This cross-sectional longitudinal survey study examined the association between screen time and internalizing and externalizing behaviours in school-aged children (6-12 years) at two time points over the 2020-2021 academic school year. Parents (n = 108) completed survey measures on their parenting styles, stress levels, along with their child’s patterns of screen time and emotional and behavioural difficulties. Children’s average daily screen time was 4.42 hours (SE = 19.04) at baseline and 3.93 hours (SE = 16.35) at 1-year follow up, with no change across the school year (p= 0.12). Increased screen time was associated with a greater incidence of internalizing behaviours in children (p= 0.03). Children who spent more time on screens who were in households with parents reporting higher stress levels had increased internalizing behaviours (p= .001). No association between screen time use and externalizing behaviours was evident; however, parent stress was positively associated with externalizing behaviours (p< .001). Children’s screen time use has remained high during the pandemic and is associated with anxious and depressive symptoms. Targeted family intervention plans focused on reducing parent stress and screen time use may aid in improving children’s mental health during the ongoing pandemic.
Hmidan, Amira, "Screen time use and Children’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8517.