Screen time and adolescent health: how to find a balance in pandemic
The article presents results of an empirical study of screen practices and health indicators of adolescents in a pandemic according to the all-Ukrainian mass survey «Media Culture in a Pandemic» (N=1,732, students of 7-10 grades from all macro-regions). It analyzes the duration of screen time and its contents due to distance learning conditions; the indicators of adolescents' health and their connection to media practices; compensators of health-preserving training during a pandemic are offered. According to the duration and content of screen practices, compared to 2018, adolescents' exploitation of different gadgets grew by 47,6%. The number of children who use the Internet 7 hours a day doubled in two years. More than 60% of adolescents use the Internet to study, more than half - watch movies and listen to music, more than a third - play online games and publish their work. In terms of distance learning, 69% of children began to look for more information to learn, 43% began to play online games less often, 34.4% began to look less often for new acquaintances on the Internet. Health scores (somatic discomfort and sleep) show that one in three teens constantly has pain in the back, one in four has constant headaches, and one in four teens often does not sleep through the night at all. A third of adolescents began to sleep less and a third more during distance learning. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient reveals direct connections between sleep duration and screen time (с=0.56, p≤0,01), as well as between the sleep duration and back discomfort (с=0,30; р≤0,01) and headache (с=0.24; p≤0.01). The necessity of compensators of distance learning are outlined: increase of motor activity, sleep regulation, the introduction of online self-monitoring practice, distribution of screen time between studying and recreational practices. Both parents and educators are encouraged to find different ways to explain the causality between screen practices and these compensators, leading to progress in screen time health culture.