Unlimited screen time can have detrimental effects on children, especially as increased device usage has become the norm since the start of the pandemic. Named as one of the most harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, screen time among adolescents continues to increase, as it more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. Studies show that most teens feel addicted to their phones, 78% check their devices at least hourly, and the majority of parents report noticing an uptick in social media usage. This increase can detrimentally impact the exposure to harmful content, as well as negative experiences that children may have online, such as cyber bullying or pornography.
Reports show that a persistent use of social media can have a negative effect on mental health, and 1 in 6 teens have experienced cyberbullying. In addition, accidental exposure is common, and on average children are first exposed to pornography at age 11, which is 2.5 years younger than in 1985. Early long term exposure can have long term consequences, and 84% of parents are worried about their child’s safety online. Accidental exposure can happen in many ways, however, there are fortunately many avenues of protection for children when using the internet. Parental controls, ground rules, instilling good habits, and having honest conversations with the children are all basic ways that families can ensure that children have only positive experiences while using the internet. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 5 parents don’t bother with parental controls because they believe that their kids can easily bypass them. However, with new technology, enabling filters and other protective measures is easy and accessible to parents everywhere.