Children’s screen time doubles during pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR) — Screen time among Colorado’s children is soaring during the pandemic and researchers believe it’s only getting worse.

According to data from a company that tracks usage on technology used by kids between the ages of 4 to 15, children’s screen time doubled in May of 2020 (compared to the year prior).

“That age group is especially impressionable to getting sort of sucked into gaming,” said Justin Ross, a clinical psychologist at UCHealth.

Fortnite and Minecraft are two of the most popular games occupying kids’ time during the pandemic.

New data shows the gaming app, ‘Roblox’, averaged more than 31 million users a day from January-September 2020.

“These games are built with that design in mind. They’re built with the idea of getting kids to spend as much time and energy as possible,” Ross explained.

With children spending so much time glued to their screens during the pandemic, health experts say it could affect the way they socialize and interact with others once the pandemic is over.

To help cut down on your child’s screen use, psychologists at UCHealth suggest the following:

“The number one piece of advice is to make the electronic devices that we give our kids, to make them yours. They’re the parents’ device and we need to declare that upfront,” Ross said.

That includes your child’s phone, video game console, computer; pretty much every piece of technology.

“When you take ownership over it you start to put parameters in place from the get go. That they don’t have free rein to it. You can take it back at any point for any reason,” Ross explained.

Ross also suggests you monitor more closely how much time your children are spending on their devices.

“So video games, computers, phones — need to have a limit every single day and they need to be put away. They can’t be left in their rooms, they need to be put in a drawer and put out of sight,” he said.

Finally, Ross says parents should lead by example.

“What we do is the greatest model for our kids. And if we’re preaching one thing to limit screen time, while we’re staring at Facebook or watching the news, we’re sending mixed messages,” Ross said.

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