Parents sweat it out over screen time, emotional health of kids

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New York– As millions of parents still struggle to cope with the pandemic amid an extended remote learning phase, a national poll in the US has revealed that they are most concerned about the overuse of social media and screen time, internet safety, unhealthy eating, depression and suicide and lack of physical activity.

Almost half of parents also described COVID-19, the disease itself, as a “big problem” impacting kids, coming in at No 10, according to the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine.

“This is an especially challenging time for families, with many children experiencing significant changes in routine that may negatively impact their health and wellbeing,” said Mott Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Gary Freed.

Parents’ biggest concerns for young people seem to be associated with changes in lifestyle as a result of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has turned the world of our children and teens upside down in many ways and this is reflected in how parents rate health issues in 2020,” Freed said in a university statement.

However, Black parents rated racism as their top health concern for children and teens, with COVID-19 coming in at the second spot.

Racism did not make the top 10 health issues for US children among white parents and COVID-19 much lower on among their concerns.

According to the researchers, it is not surprising that the top three issues on parents’ list of concerns are related to screen use.

Children are spending more time online because of virtual school or not being able to spend time with friends in person.

Freed said that parents should worry less about the amount of time children are using devices and more on how they are using the technology.

“It’s important for children and teens to maintain social and family connections that we know are critical for their emotional well-being, especially during a time when they are feeling stressed or isolated,” Freed noted.

“Technology may be an important vehicle for those connections.”

“Parents need to have ongoing conversations with their children and teens to guide them on safe internet practices,” the researchers noted.

Families should try to maintain routines, especially keeping regular sleep schedules and helping teens resist the temptation to go to bed much later than usual and sleeping in later.

Children who have lost family members to COVID-19 may also need special attention and mental health services to help in how to understand and cope with their loss.

“Families should also recognise the emotional toll of racism on children and teens”. (IANS)

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