Screen time as an index of family distress.

General Information

Screen time as an index of family distress.
Joshua K.Hartshorne, Yi Ting Huang, Pablo Martín, Lucio Paredes, Kathleen Oppenheimer, Parker T.Robbins and María Daniela Velasco
Publication Type
Journal paper
Current Research in Behavioral Sciences
The increase in children’s screen time over the last few decades has concerned parents, educators, and policymakers alike, due to its association with negative developmental outcomes. Interventions have focused on cautioning parents against screen time and coaching them on how to limit it. Such interventions are unlikely to be effective if screen time is driven less by parental preference than by parental necessity, supplementing insufficient adult caretaker availability. We show that during the COVID crisis, screen time in the United States increased dramatically as a direct result of sudden decrease in adult caretaker availability. This indicates that lower screen time rates prior to the pandemic were not (merely) a function of well-informed parenting but of well-resourced parenting. It also supports claims that the associations between screen time and developmental outcomes are epiphenomenal and due to their joint dependence on family well being.