New data coming from Circle Media Labs Inc. shows how family internet usage has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that parents across the United States are working, educating, and entertaining their kids from home, family habits and media consumption is changing. Circle is a software company that delivers online screen time management and parental control solutions to families. Since social distancing and stay-at-home orders were issued in March, the company gathered usage data from users across the country and uncovered the following interesting tidbits:
- Average household screen time is higher across the board – up 56.5% for kids, 50.4% for teenagers and 39.5% for adults.
- Use of the Circle App to view online usage is up 50%, demonstrating parents are taking more interest in how their children are engaging with online content and apps.
- Parents are taking action – the use of Circle’s time limit feature has increased by 60%.
- There has been a 65% increase in “rewards” doled out. Circle offers this feature so parents can celebrate good behavior with extra screen time or later bedtime.
- With schoolwork to be done, parents are cracking down on certain apps – either setting time limits or blocking the apps altogether. Parents are limiting the time spent on these apps:
- Tik Tok
- The top apps blocked by parents since the start of this turbulent time are:
- Tik Tok
“In many ways, screens are going to get us through this—allowing for virtual meetings with family, friends, and teachers, and keeping us connected to a world we can no longer experience in person, at least for now,” said Andrew Olson, CEO of Circle. “We are providing parents with the tools to manage the technology, so they can achieve a balance that’s right for them and their families.”
Circle says the company has seen an increase in families relying on its services to manage their screen time.
“With the current situation, we are having to not only work from home but homeschooling our children while the school system tries to catch up with digital learning,” said Circle customer Christian Rossi. “To this end, we rely heavily on online classes and activities and with balancing work from home at the same time, we cannot always be present to manage their time and transitions from schoolwork to free time and entertainment screen time. Circle has been an absolutely critical tool in managing those transitions – freeing us up to focus on our work with minimal interruptions while providing the children a tool to help them better manage their own time.”
Circle is just one of many screen management apps available to users. Circle and other screen management apps are great tools for parents to limit the amount of time young eyes have on media. Using tablets, smartphones, computers, and gaming are generally sedentary activities that could lead to kids and teens not getting enough exercise or movement. The Mayo Clinic also adds that too much screen time can lead to the following:
- Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
- Behavioral problems
- Loss of social skills
- Less time for play
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of screens by children 18-24 months old. If screens are to be used by children that young, then the content should be high-quality, and the child should not be left alone with the screen. Time limits for older children will vary. For example, children 2-5 years old should be limited to one hour of screens a day. In all cases, the programming being consumed also matters. Parents should make all attempts to give kids the highest quality learned content possible. While some cartoons and games are okay, it’s best to use the time for education rather than mindless drivel.
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