Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on screen time and sleep in early adolescents



Kiss, O., Nagata, J.M., de Zambotti, M., Dick, A.S., Marshall, A.T., Sowell, E.R., Van Rinsveld, A., Guillaume, M., Pelham, W.E., Gonzalez, M.R. and Brown, S.A., Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on screen time and sleep in early adolescents. Health psychology: official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association.



During the COVID-19 pandemic, adolescents and families have turned to online activities and social platforms more than ever to maintain well-being, connect remotely with friends and family, and online schooling. However, excessive screen use can have negative effects on health (e.g., sleep). This study examined changes in sleep habits and recreational screen time (social media, video gaming), and their relationship, before and across the first year of the pandemic in adolescents in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study.


Mixed-effect models were used to examine associations between self-reported sleep and screen time using longitudinal data of 5,027 adolescents in the ABCD Study, assessed before the pandemic (10-13 years) and across six time points between May 2020 and March 2021 (pandemic).


Time in bed varied, being higher during May-August 2020 relative to pre-pandemic, partially related to the school summer break, before declining in October 2020 to levels lower than pre-pandemic. Screen time steeply increased and remained high across all pandemic time points relative to pre-pandemic. Higher social media use and video gaming were associated with shorter time in bed, later bedtimes, and longer sleep onset latency.


Sleep behavior and screen time changed during the pandemic in early adolescents. More screen time was associated with poorer sleep behavior, before and during the pandemic. While recreational screen usage is an integral component of adolescent’s activities, especially during the pandemic, excessive use can have negative effects on essential health behaviors, highlighting the need to promote balanced screen usage. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Read more from SRI