Parents try to limit children’s screen time as it increases during pandemic

New Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) study finds children’s screen time has doubled since before the pandemic, and most parents agree it is harmful to eye health

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, July 8, 2020 – A new poll on behalf of The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) finds that children’s screen time has doubled since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Most parents are aware of the risks this poses to their child’s eye health and are trying to find outdoor activities to do with their child. Regarding myopia, or nearsightedness, less than a quarter of parents say their child is affected by it, but nearly two thirds are familiar with it and think it is a serious problem for their child. Most parents are correct in answering a series of true/false statements about nearsightedness, but just half are aware that it occurs due to environmental factors.

Detailed Findings   

Screen time for both parents and children has increased since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.  

  • Seven in ten parents of a child under 18 years old say their child is spending more time using the television, with more than half saying the same for tablets (58%), smartphones (58%), laptops (57%), and video games (53%).  
  • At least three in five parents say their child is spending more time watching online movies or shows (69%), participating in remote or e-learning (67%), and video chatting or FaceTiming (61%).  
  • Significantly more parents say they are spending more than four hours a day using electronic devices (59% since the pandemic began, up from 36% prior to the pandemic) or playing video games (22%, up from 12%) since the pandemic began.  
  • Meanwhile, children spending more than four hours a day using electronic devices (44%, compared to 21%) or playing video games (28%, from 13%) has more than doubled from before the pandemic began. Parents with a child 14-17 are most likely to say their child is using electronic devices or playing video games for more than four hours on an average day.  

Most parents agree that prolonged screen time is detrimental to their child’s eye health and are actively trying to limit their screen time.  

  • Seventy-eight percent of parents agree that prolonged screen time is harmful to their child(ren)’s eye health, with 62% agreeing that video gaming is harmful.  
  • Around three quarters are looking for ways to help limit their child’s screen time (76%), and 81% are trying to find outdoor activities to do with their child. Parents with a child between 14 and 17 years old are less likely to say they are looking for ways to limit screen time (63%) or outdoor activities (75%).  
  • Although most say their child is spending a long period of time viewing a screen without stopping (69%), parents also agree that it is hard to find activities for their child that does not include screens (60%). Parents of young children under five years old, though, are less likely to say they struggle to find activities without screens (51%).
  • Just half are comfortable with the amount of time their child spends on electronic devices (52%), but eight in ten parents expect their family’s screen time to decrease after COVID19 restrictions are lifted.
  • More parents say that their child in the last three months has expressed discomfort in his or her eyes after viewing a screen for a prolonged period of time (31%) than before the coronavirus outbreak began (26%).

Most Americans are knowledgeable about myopia, with the exception of the influence of environmental factors. After heredity, various types of screen time are perceived as the biggest contributing factors.

  • Among all parents, 62% believe myopia to be a very or somewhat serious problem for their child, including 73% of parents whose child has myopia.
  • When asked a series of knowledge questions about myopia, 60% or more of parents are correctly able to discern whether four out of five are true or false. However, parents are split on whether it is true (49%) or false (51%) that myopia occurs due to environmental factors (true).
  • As many acknowledge that childhood-onset myopia is more common than it used to be (62%), a majority of parents are concerned that their child’s screen time will either worsen their myopia (74% of parents whose child is myopic) or cause myopia (56% of parents without a myopic child).
  • More than half (53%) believe hereditary factors are one of the largest contributors to myopia. This is followed by three screen-related issues: too much time staring at small screens (43%), watching too much TV (31%) and video games (27%).

 

About the Study   

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 29 – June 2, 2020, on behalf of The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC). For this survey, a sample of 2,007 parents with a child under 18 years old from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 470 parents with a child less than 5 years old, 603 parents with a child 5-10 years old, 339 parents with a child 11-13 years old, and 595 parents with a child 14-17 years old.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,007, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/4.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points among parents with a child less than 5 years old, 4.6 percentage points among parents with a child 5-10 years old, 6.1 percentage points among parents with a child 11-13 years old, and 4.6 percentage points among parents with a child 14-17 years old.

For more information on this news release, please contact:     

Mallory Newall 
Director, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 202 420-2014   
mallory.newall@ipsos.com     

Kate Silverstein 
Media Relations Specialist, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 718 755-8829   
kate.silverstein@ipsos.com     

About Ipsos   

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.   

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. 

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).    ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com          

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The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs

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