School's out: Parenting stress and screen time use in school-age children during the COVID-19 pandemic
Journal of Affective Disorders Reports
URL with Digital Object Identifier
Background During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children abruptly moved to online schooling, which required high levels of parental involvement. Family routines were disrupted, potentially increasing parental stress, and may be reflected in greater media screen time use in children. Objectives To determine whether (1) parenting styles and (2) parenting stress were associated with children's screen time use during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period. Methods Parents (> 18 years of age) were recruited to complete an online survey regarding changes in their children's (6–12 years) screen time use and daily activities before and during the pandemic. Stress and parental involvement were assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Alabama Parenting Questionnaires respectively. General linear models assessed whether parenting style and parent stress were associated with children's screen time during the pandemic, adjusting for demographic variables and daily activities. Results 104 parents were enrolled, and 73 (70.2%) parents completed the surveys. Children's screen time (e.g., watching television and playing video games) increased significantly, from 2.6 to 5.9h a day (p =.001) during pandemic-related school closures. Fewer changes in children's screen time use were significantly associated with greater parental involvement (p =.017). Parent stress (p =.018) significantly predicted children's screen time use. Lower household income was associated with increased hours of screen time in both models (both, p <.05). Conclusions: Children's screen time increased significantly during the initial months of the pandemic. Parent stress and parenting styles may be modifiable risk factors to promote children's well-being during the ongoing pandemic.