Research shows screen time spikes and decline in wellbeing for children during 2020
New research, conducted by outside school hours care (OSHC) provider Camp Australia, has shown that the events of 2020 led to “a significant decrease in physical and mental wellbeing for children aged between six and twelve years”.
Almost all principals surveyed (90 per cent) reported that children had experienced a decrease in physical wellbeing, an increase in anxiety, and feelings of being disconnected as a result of the transition to remote learning, and other associated restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In more encouraging findings, children’s resilience and independence increased across the board in 2020 according to parents, with 74 per cent saying they saw positive changes in their children.
Conducted in December 2020, the Camp Australia research surveyed 1,138 Australian parents and 124 principals from partner schools.
“We already knew 2020 was stressful for children,” Camp Australia CEO Brett Comer explained, “but we wanted to identify from parents and principals how we could better support children’s growth as we headed into 2021.”
The significant impacts principals and parents saw on children’s physical and mental wellbeing resulted from a loss of connection with friendship groups and family, and decreased participation in physical activities as children’s screen consumption habits increased.
Holding this knowledge, Mr Comer explained, will help parents and educators to work in unison as children manage the new school year in 2021, building on the “incredible resilience” they developed in 2020.
The challenge, he continued, will lie in breaking the screen time habits developed, and supporting children to transition into a new COVID-19 normal.
“We all hope it includes more time for children to be active and interact socially again,” Mr Comer said.
As part of the push for a return to physical activity, social interaction and fun, Camp Australia will be hosting the “biggest ever, national handball championship for OSHC children” in Term 1 2021.
Handball, also known as downball or four square, depending on location, is a game known and loved by many children around the country. Official practice will be held 8-19 March, during after school care sessions in participating Your OSHC locations, followed by a Championship Week, Service Championships, Rocketeers Championships, and Regional Finals before a regional champion is chosen.