Children's excessive digital media use, mental health problems and the protective role of parenting during COVID-19

Bar Shutzman*, Naama Gershy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

COVID-19's outbreak in March 2020 and the social distancing measures that followed it changed the lives of children worldwide. Studies assessing the pandemic's implications for children have reported an alarming increase in the use of digital media (DM) and warned of its adverse impacts on children's functioning and development. The current study aimed to assess the relationship between excessive and problematic DM use and emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning among Israeli adolescents during COVID-19 and to identify adolescents at elevated risk of developing problematic DM use. Three hundred forty-seven Israeli parent–child dyads (M age = 11.81, SD = 1.41) separately completed measures assessing children's DM use (time and addiction), functioning (academic, social, emotional, and behavioral), behavioral dysregulation, and the parents' parenting practices. The results showed that DM addiction, but not DM use, was related to children's emotional, behavioral, and academic difficulties. Moreover, the results indicated that negative parenting and behavioral dysregulation increased the risk of DM addiction, which in turn increased emotional, behavioral, and academic difficulties. The results underscored parents' role in preventing problematic DM use and highlighted the need to treat DM use and problematic DM use as distinct constructs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number107559
Pages (from-to)107559
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume139
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Digital media
  • Emotional and behavioral difficulties
  • Parent–child relationship
  • Screen addiction

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