Monday, October 3, 2022

New UW study looks at how screens and exercise are affecting children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

It might not come as a big shock to learn that less screen time and more physical activity for kids leads to better mental health. A recent University of Washington pediatric study backs up that theory with new details on the growing problems children face during the pandemic.

The study, published last month in JAMA Network Open, takes a snapshot of the daily activities of children aged 6 to 17 between October 22 and November 2, 2020, when the third wave of new COVID-19 cases in the United States began to take shape. .

The study noted that of the 1,000 children surveyed, 22.2% were attending school individually, 50.6% were attending classes virtually and 27.2% were in hybrid arrangements. The surveyed households reported a daily average of 4.4 hours in recreational screen time for their children – a figure that the study notes is in line with most pre-pandemic estimates.

The mental health of the children in the study was assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Of those, 143 were either diagnosed with or were being assessed for anxiety, 110 for depression, 160 for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 116 for a behavioral problem.

NS Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scores in the UW survey showed that 11.9% had difficulties, higher than the 7.1% reported in previously published studies of US criteria.

“As expected, children whose families experienced the most epidemic-related stress exhibited the most mental health and behavioral problems,” the researchers wrote. “Notably, this association persisted when previously controlling for health disparities and demographic characteristics associated with disproportionate COVID-19 impact,
such as race and ethnicity, and the parents’ educational attainment.”

According to the study, only 195 of the children surveyed reported 60 minutes of daily physical activity per day, and the less physical activity and the more screen time they had, the greater the difficulties across all age groups.

Dr. Pooja Tandon, an associate professor of pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said the study found children most affected by pandemic-related stressors such as food insecurity, loss of income, loss of health insurance and risk Is. For COVID-19, engaged in less physical activity and had more screen time than their peers.

Tandon said the unique circumstances of the pandemic meant that much of the screen time was unavoidable, both for school and socialization.

But it’s important to take time off screen to get outside, play, interact with other humans and loved ones, even to sleep.

Tandon said, “I recognize that this is an incredibly challenging time for parents, and I think there are opportunities for us as families to prioritize these health behaviors, knowing that this is a physical important for both health and mental health.”

Nation World News Desk
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