The pandemic has caused a spike in screen time, accelerating a trend of more students using technology. A pre-pandemic 2019 Common Sense Media report showed that students spent an average of 7.5 hours consuming digital media each day. A recent Nielsen survey found that daily average screen time among adults surged from 10 hours to 13.5 hours from fall 2019 to spring 2020. The Social Institute’s Annual Student Survey found that 42% of fifth graders own a phone, a number that skyrockets to 94% by the time they enter eighth grade.
Students today are more connected than ever. Since the pandemic began, more schools are adopting 1:1 device programs and embracing new technology platforms. Students as young as second grade are now using laptops and submitting work digitally, and according to an Axios report, children ages six through twelve say they are spending at least 50 percent more time in front of screens than they did before the pandemic.
As schools wind down a year like no other, The Social Institute is increasing staff, updating curriculums, and partnering with additional schools in order to empower even more students to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively for the 2021-22 school year.
While many of us happily log on to Facebook and Instagram and share parts of our lives daily, many parents are also concerned about their kids and their social media use. For several years now we have navigated many confusing and alarming messages, including: social media is dangerous, and kids can be victims of predators, social media is bad for self-image and self-esteem, social media use can ruin a child’s reputation and harm their chances of college acceptance or employment.
In my work helping students across the country navigate social media, I’ve heard from tens of thousands of tweens and teens directly about how they are using social media on a daily basis. I also get to connect with parents – learning about their biggest challenges and concerns when it comes to being a good digital parent.