Screen time down among young people since the pandemic

Screen time down among young people since the pandemic
Screen time down among young people since the pandemic

Young Montrealers are on their screens less than during the pandemic, according to a new study published by the Montreal Regional Public Health Department (DSRP) conducted among adolescents aged 14 to 17.

It reveals that while 27% of young people surveyed during the pandemic spent 5 hours or more per day in front of a screen during the week, this proportion increases to 19% in 2023 while for weekend days, it increases from 44% in 2021 to 38% in 2023.

However, many adolescents indicate that their digital habits sometimes or often affect their sleep (41%), their schoolwork (54%) or that those around them are worried about their digital habits (57%).

Although they demonstrate that the use of screens remains a sensitive point for the well-being of young people, the public health expert on hyperconnectivity issues at the DRSP, Jean-François Biron, welcomes these new figures positive, but tempered.

“We are happy because it was still quite worrying during the pandemic,” he said. We are certainly delighted, but we also have to put into context that we were in an exceptional situation where there was a lot of pressure on teenagers at that time.”

“We see that they are much more satisfied with their lives,” he continues. We had 20% of young people who were dissatisfied with their lives [en 2021], at that age it’s rather rare. There we come back to a statistic of 5%, which is still much more acceptable.

Although young people still use screens a lot, they are intertwined with their lifestyle habits.

84% use them to watch videos, 76% to go on social media, 53% to play video games.

21% of respondents indicate that they often or very often visit information or news sites while 34% engage in other types of activity such as shopping, training and webinars.

“We can look at it at the level of addiction, when it becomes a clinical problem, but what we realize is that young people use a lot of screens, and it is anchored in lifestyle habits,” says Jean-François Biron.

“During the pandemic we had 40% of young people telling us that they were tired of screens,” he adds. For the people who work to get young people to have healthy digital habits, it’s an interesting lever to know that they are fed up. That has gone down too, but there are still young people who think they are doing too much.”

According to the expert, the fact that young people have changed their habits now that they can socialize again demonstrates the impact that the environment they are in can have on screen time.

“When we encourage the use of screens, when we close places of socialization, when we close the possibilities of doing something else, it has an impact on morale, but also on screen time,” he maintains. . Even if we would have liked to do without the pandemic, it still allowed us to observe that there is still a lever at the environmental level, beyond asking young people to stop.

He adds that it is not only young people who are looking to reduce their screen time.

“In general, it has become quite widespread in society, the fact of doing disconnection exercises and wanting to reduce, and it is a good proportion, so that it is now present among young people, we find that it is an interesting lever,” shares Mr. Biron.

Watch the full interview in the video above

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