Children aged 9-13 years are spending more than three hours a day on social media watching videos or playing games on the internet, according to 42 per cent of urban parents who took part in a survey in Maharashtra. And 46 per cent of the children are using smartphones for it, thanks to easy access to devices with school activities going online.
The survey was conducted by Local Circles, a community social media platform which conducted various studies to gauge public opinion during the pandemic. The survey included around 13,000 parents from across Maharashtra, seeking their observations on internet, social media and gaming habits of children, post pandemic.
“During the first two years of the pandemic, many children were mostly confined to their homes. Besides being engaged with online classes as in-person schools were shut, one of their favourite past-time was using gadgets such as smartphones, tablets or laptops to watch videos, play online games and chat with peers. Studies have revealed obsession with screen-time increased during the pandemic,” said Sachin Taparia, founder of Local Circles.
Parents feel excessive use of gadgets and giving access to children early along with school activities becoming online during the pandemic are key reasons why children have become addicted to social media, videos and gaming on the internet. While 39 per cent of the parents feel their children aged 9-13 years are addicted to videos, chat and gaming on the internet; 35 per cent parents feel this is partially true. According to them, this is because many school-related activities are now online, which has allowed easy access to internet.
“More troubling for urban Indian parents has been allowing their children as young as nine-year-olds to use social media, including Facebook and Instagram, which they didn’t allow previously due to fears about the safety of their children and also likelihood of them being exposed to undesirable content,” said Taparia, adding that a national-level survey with over 65,000 responding parents paint a similar picture.
According to him, 47 per cent of urban Indian parents surveyed said their children aged 9-13 years are addicted to social media, videos and gaming on the internet.