Keywords: Media use, remote schooling, COVID-19, mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the lives of school-aged children and adolescents. Limited opportunities for social interactions, entertainment, and education outside the home moved all related activities online and freed time for additional digital media use. Understanding youth’s experiences with remote learning and online social engagement and potential benefits and consequences of these activities can help identify areas of need in the “new normal.” Parents of K-12th graders (N=1,569) completed an online survey about their child’s media use during the pandemic, their own perception of the impact of this use, and their experiences with remote schooling. Linear regressions identified associations between parent/child characteristics and parental reports. Many young people increased their digital media use during the pandemic. Many connected with friends and family using interactive technology. The majority of parents reported media use as helpful to their child’s relationships. Parents with higher socio-economic status indicators and those reporting on daughters saw digital media use as more beneficial. Most parents reported a positive experience with remote schooling and saw it as helpful for children’s academic skills; parents with children in private schools provided higher ratings of remote schooling. Following a day of remote schooling, many children experienced physical problems such as headaches, back pain, and eye pain/strain, with higher prevalence among older children and private school students. Overall, children had positive experiences with media during the pandemic, but social resources may allow some to more readily translate use into academic and social benefits.