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Digital screen time during COVID-19 pandemic: A public health concern

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Abstract

The use of digital screens, including television, computers, mobile phones, and smart devices, can be associated with a wide range of health outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, different population groups may have been adapted to varying levels of screen time, which may have profound implications on their health and wellbeing. The available evidence suggests that screen time is associated with obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, myopia, depression, sleep disorders, and many other noncommunicable diseases. This elevated burden of diseases is prevalent among individuals who have sedentary lifestyles and other unhealthy behaviors that are likely to increase during quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. As several empirical studies have reported a rising trend of screen time during this pandemic, it is critical to assess the adverse health outcomes that may appear as its long-term consequences globally. Researchers and practitioners need to revisit the available guidelines and incorporate evidence-based interventions for preventing unhealthy screen time among the affected individuals. Such interventions may address not only unhealthy screen use behavior but also promote active lifestyles that may improve health across populations during and after this pandemic.
REVIEW
Digital screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic: a public
health concern [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]
Abida Sultana1-3, Samia Tasnim 1,2,4, Md Mahbub Hossain1,2,4,
Sudip Bhattacharya5, Neetu Purohit6
1Nature Study Society of Bangladesh, Khulna, Bangladesh
2EviSyn Health, Khulna, Bangladesh
3Gazi Medical College, Khulna, Bangladesh
4Texas A&M University System, College Station, Tx, 77840, USA
5Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, India
6IIHMR University, Jaipur, India
First published: 08 Feb 2021, 10:81
https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.50880.1
Latest published: 08 Feb 2021, 10:81
https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.50880.1
v1
Abstract
Due to the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus disease
2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, different population groups have adapted
to varying screen time levels, which may have profound implications
on their physical and mental wellbeing. Several empirical studies
included in this review reported a sudden upward change in screen
time across different population groups. A higher number of people
with increased screen time compared to their pre-pandemic state and
prolonged duration of total screen time substantiates such assertions.
The available evidence suggests that screen time is associated with
obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, myopia, depression, sleep
disorders, and several non-communicable diseases. This elevated
burden of diseases is more prevalent among individuals who have
sedentary lifestyles and other unhealthy behaviors that are likely to
increase during quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Hence, it is
critical to assess the adverse health outcomes that may appear as
long-term consequences of such behavior. Researchers and
practitioners need to revisit the available guidelines and incorporate
evidence-based interventions for preventing unhealthy screen time
among the affected individuals. Such interventions may address
harmful behaviors associated with screen time and promote active
lifestyles that may improve health across populations during and after
this pandemic.
Keywords
Screen time; Screen use; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Health promotion.
Open Peer Review
Reviewer Status AWAITING PEER REVIEW
Any reports and responses or comments on the
article can be found at the end of the article.
Page 1 of 8
F1000Research 2021, 10:81 Last updated: 11 FEB 2021
Corresponding author: Samia Tasnim (tasnim@tamu.edu)
Author roles: Sultana A: Conceptualization, Data Curation, Investigation, Project Administration, Resources, Supervision, Writing –
Original Draft Preparation, Writing – Review & Editing; Tasnim S: Conceptualization, Investigation, Project Administration, Writing –
Original Draft Preparation, Writing – Review & Editing; Hossain MM: Conceptualization, Data Curation, Methodology, Project
Administration, Resources, Supervision, Writing – Original Draft Preparation, Writing – Review & Editing; Bhattacharya S:
Conceptualization, Methodology, Resources, Writing – Original Draft Preparation, Writing – Review & Editing; Purohit N: Investigation,
Methodology, Resources, Writing – Original Draft Preparation, Writing – Review & Editing
Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.
Grant information: The author(s) declared that no grants were involved in supporting this work.
Copyright: © 2021 Sultana A et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
How to cite this article: Sultana A, Tasnim S, Hossain MM et al. Digital screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic: a public health
concern [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review] F1000Research 2021, 10:81 https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.50880.1
First published: 08 Feb 2021, 10:81 https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.50880.1
This article is included in the Coronavirus
collection.
Page 2 of 8
F1000Research 2021, 10:81 Last updated: 11 FEB 2021
Introduction
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has
critically impacted physical and mental health globally1,2. Many
countries have adopted varying measures to minimize the
transmission of the disease, including adopting shelter in place
policies, staying at home, limiting access to nursing homes, and
prohibiting gatherings at places where people can potentially
come into closer contact3. Populations with stricter preventive
strategies, higher contact tracing, and faster clinical care may
result in better public health outcomes during this pandemic46.
However, the closure or remote operations of schools, offices,
and other organizations have resulted in higher use of digital
media such as desktops, laptops, tablet computers, and mobile
devices for interpersonal communications and other organizational
activities7,8. People staying at home or closed places spend higher
hours watching television or using digital media for entertainment
purposes9. Previous research shows that screen time is associated
with a wide range of non-communicable diseases among vulner-
able individuals1013. Recent empirical studies suggest a rapid
increase in digital screen time in different populations during
the COVID-19 pandemic1417. This necessitates a comprehensive
understanding of the potential public health impacts and how
preventive strategies should be adopted to address these.
In this narrative literature review, we aimed to describe the
epidemiological burden of prolonged screen time and associated
problems in COVID-19 from available articles retrieved from
Medline and Google Scholar using a non-systematic approach.
It was not possible to conduct a systematic literature review
due to the low number of empirical research articles. The
epidemiological burden is primarily described as the prevalence
and the average duration of screen time of the individuals or
population studied. Secondarily, key factors associated with
these problems are summarized to inform the risk and
protective factors. Lastly, we have discussed how the current
evidence may inform future research, policy development and
practice, to improve screen-based behaviors amid the
COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies.
Discussion
COVID-19 and rising trends of screen time: public
health concerns
A growing body of literature concerns the rising trends of screen
time and its associated health outcomes during the COVID-19
pandemic. A study of 254 Canadian families with young
children reported increased screen time in mothers, fathers, and
children during COVID-19 at 74%, 61%, and 87%, respectively17.
Moreover, a study conducted in China found that about 70%
of 1033 participants spent more time looking at screens after the
COVID-19 outbreak16. Another study used a longitudinal design
to evaluate health behavior changes during COVID-19 and
found a perceived increase in screen time among the
participants15. Furthermore, a study conducted in Poland reported
that 49% of the participants experienced an elevated screen time
during the COVID-19 pandemic14. Additionally, a study conducted
in Turkey during the final days of the long-standing lockdown
found that nearly 72% of the children studied had a higher
screen time compared to the previous years18. In that group, the
average duration of screen time was 6.4 hours per day, which is
much higher than the 2 hours per day recommendations of
the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
(AACAP)18. Another study recruited 4108 participants from nine
European countries and found a 65% increased screen time among
the participants during this pandemic19. According to the survey
conducted by Majumder et al., among 203 Indian day job hold-
ers and university students, the use of electronic devices such as
televisions, computers and cell phones has increased significantly
during the lockdown phase20. These studies provide early evi-
dence on rising trends of screen time in diverse populations, which
necessitate an investigation into how such trends may impact
public health in the global scenario.
A study from the UK found that the participants had an aver-
age of 7.2 hours of screen time, which was higher in younger
adults aged below 34 years compared to those aged 65 years
or above21. This study reported a positive association between
screen time and poor mental health among the participants
(OR=1.07, 95% CI=1.02–1.13), which was more significant
in women (OR=1.07, 95% CI=1.01–1.14) and adults aged
35–64 years (OR=1.13, 95% CI=1.05–1.22). Another large-
scale study from China conducted among more than 12,000
participants from all central provinces reported that the aver-
age screen time was more than 4 hours per day while they were
staying at home. They also found that individuals with more
strenuous physical activities had a better emotional state and lesser
screen time than those with lighter physical activity22. A study
from Canada reported that men and women had better general
and mental health status if they had an active lifestyle with lesser
screen time compared to those who had a sedentary lifestyle
with higher screen time23. Xiao and colleagues surveyed 1680
Chinese adolescents and reported that screen time was nega-
tively associated with mood24. Additionally, children with lesser
screen time and increased physical activity had a reduced number
of conflicts with their parents24. The available evidence confirms
that the early impacts of screen time on different age groups
can range from physical to psychosocial conditions with varying
risks, which may require longitudinal studies focusing on the
relationships between screen time and the multiple variables that
may explain the causality, as well as the long-term consequences
of screen time.
The current evidence on adverse health outcomes associated
with increased screen time may require an ecological evaluation
by expanding the focus on correlated factors such as dietary
practices and physical activities among the affected population.
For example, Pišot and colleagues reported an increased body
mass that could be explained by meal sizes, unhealthy food
consumption, sports time, and screen time19. Similarly, Górnicka
found that 43% of respondents had experienced a reduction in
physical activity, and 34% had increased food consumption in
a sample where 49% of individuals reported an increased screen
time14. A study from China assessed the physical and psychoso-
cial health impacts of the nationwide lockdown and found that
more than half of Chinese adults had a sedentary lifestyle with
inadequate physical activity, increased screen time, and poor
emotional state16. These studies suggest that a synergistic effect
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F1000Research 2021, 10:81 Last updated: 11 FEB 2021
may exist between these co-occurring health behaviors, which
can be prevalent among individuals affected by this pandemic.
Screen time alone or in combination with other sedentary behav-
iors may have detrimental effects on populations affected by
COVID-19, which should be examined in the context of global
evidence from previous research on screen time and associated
health outcomes.
Global evidence on the association between screen
time and health outcomes
Global evidence suggests that screen time is associated with
multiple health outcomes in different population groups.
Syntheses of primary studies summarized in numerous system-
atic reviews and meta-analyses may provide a more substantial
evidence base on a health problem of interest2527. Multiple stud-
ies have shown adverse ophthalmological impacts associated
with screen time. A meta-analytic review of 15 studies found a
pooled odds ratio (OR) for myopia of 1.02 (95% confidence
interval [CI]: 0.96 1.08) in a sample of 49789 children13.
A significant proportion of evidence-based reviews report higher
risks of non-communicable diseases associated with screen time.
For example, a meta-analysis of 16 studies found that the odds of
overweight or obesity was 1.67 (95% CI: 1.48 – 1.88, P < .0001)
in children who had screen time 2 hours per day28. A dose-
response meta-analysis found linear associations between
television viewing and type 2 diabetes and hypertension and a
non-linear association with overweight or obesity among adult
participants29. This study also reported that each added hour
of television viewing increased the risks of hypertension and
type 2 diabetes by 6% and 8%, respectively29.
Moreover, the risks of non-communicable diseases associated
with sedentary activities that increase screen time may provide
critical insights into how screen time can be prevalent along-
side other health behavior and yield poor health outcomes across
population groups. A large hospital-based cohort study con-
firmed a direct deleterious relationship between screen time and
cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and all-cause mortality30.
It indicated individuals who engaged in screen-based entertain-
ment for more than 4 hours per day were at 1.5 times higher risk
of all-cause mortality and 2.3 times increased risk of clinically
confirmed CVD events compared to those with less than 2 hours
of screen time per day30. A meta-analysis of 20 studies analyzed
32 effect sizes on the relationship between non-active video gam-
ing and body mass31. This study found a positive relationship
between these two constructs, whereas moderator analyses
revealed that the relationship was pronounced among adults
compared to children or adolescents.
Several evidence-based reviews have reported the mental
health impacts of elevated screen time. For example, another
meta-analytic review of 12 cross-sectional and seven longitudi-
nal studies found that individuals with higher screen time had
significantly elevated risks of depression (OR: 1.28, 95%
CI: 1.17 1.39, p < .01)10. Another review of 31 studies
reported that screen time was associated with poorer sleep
outcomes in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers11. Such
psychosocial health outcomes associated with screen time may
not depend on the quantity of time using the screen, only the
quality and contents of screen use may critically impact
individuals. A meta-analytic review of 43 studies with a sample
of 31,162 participants found that mass trauma television coverage
was associated with acute stress reactions and posttraumatic
stress outcomes, highlighting the psychosocial implications
of television content for the users of this media32. These
evidence-based reviews may enable reflection on how the pattern
of screen time in the current pandemic may be associated with
multiple health outcomes globally.
Mitigating adverse health outcomes associated with
screen time during COVID-19
Contemporary evidence suggests a rapid increase in digital screen
time during the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, pre-pandemic
research syntheses indicate that such incremental use of
screen-based media may result in adverse physical and mental
health consequences in the affected populations. Such challenges
may impose an added burden of non-communicable diseases
globally in the post-pandemic world. It is critical to acknowledge
this upcoming public health crisis and adopt mitigation strategies
to prevent the health hazards associated with increased screen
time.
It is necessary to strengthen the knowledge base to make
informed policies, guidelines, and treatments for reducing the
adverse health impacts of screen time. Although digital screen
time is a global issue, there is a lack of research on this topic from
low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, strengthening
collaborative research which engages global nations to combat
common public health challenges associated with COVID-19
can improve international evidence and future practices33. Such
collaborative research on the effects of screen time on diverse
population groups would need multi-specialty research teams
to better understand the epidemiological variances across
populations. Moreover, leveraging digital technologies to assess
behavioral dimensions and psychosocial correlates can be useful
for generating user-level insights that may guide the development
of future interventions3436. Particularly, assessing dose-response
relationships between screen time and health outcomes in
different COVID-affected population groups may facilitate the
development of informed practice guidelines.
Many studies during COVID-19, as well as in the pre-pandemic
era, assessed screen time in children and younger populations11,37,
which can be a research trend attributable to the fact that these
populations are more vulnerable to increased screen time
with lesser self-control and this is likely to have long-term
consequences. Although screen-based activities in moderation
pose no harm, children and teenagers often lack the discipline
and insight to limit screen time on their own. It is essential to
further specify the safe levels of screen time for age-specific
groups through assessing available evidence and ensuring consen-
sus among pediatricians, general practitioners, parents, teachers,
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F1000Research 2021, 10:81 Last updated: 11 FEB 2021
social workers, and other key stakeholders. There is a growing
body of evidence suggesting that the home environment also
plays a vital role in screen time. The presence of a TV in the bed-
room, lack of house rules for TV watching, and infrequent family
meals are associated with increased duration of screen time14,3841.
Many studies have identified that setting house rules can be
effective in limiting screen time for children. For example, a
randomized control trial by Barr-Anderson et al., reported that a
change in a parent’s total screen time and parental rules limiting
TV watching were associated with reduced screen time among
the children in the study42. Similarly, Birken et al., found that
eating lunch in front of the TV and an increase in parental screen
time by one hour significantly increased children’s screen time.
However, a fixed time for screen time reduced hours spent in
front of the TV by 30 minutes per day among children43. Addi-
tionally, Hu et al., reported that Chinese preschoolers belong-
ing to households with regulations to limit screen time had
improved social and cognitive skills. They also found that
mothers hold a pivotal role in modeling children’s screen
behavior44.
Parents can be instrumental in reducing screen time for children
by ameliorating the overall environment of the house, improving
family bonding, and regulating screen time. Although parents’
role has become more critical during this COVID-19 pandemic,
many are struggling to achieve a work-life balance as they must
navigate working from home4547. This struggle is more pronounced
in lower-income families as they were hit disproportionately by
the current catastrophe48. The government can mobilize resources
to train and support parents to guide their children. Teachers and
pediatricians can increase awareness among parents regarding
screen time through social media campaigns, webinars, and other
online forums. Training modules can be developed for parents
to improve household regulation regarding screen time and bet-
ter guide their children. Lastly, social workers and community
health workers can also be employed to train parents and
provide psychosocial support as necessary.
Similar approaches can be adopted for special population
groups such as working professionals who may have similar pat-
terns of screen use. Identifying such trends and the underlying
psychosocial reasons associated with screen use may enable the
development and adoption of common strategies addressing ele-
vated screen time and associated health outcomes. In this regard,
guidelines provided by the World Health Organization (WHO)
and other institutions may offer some strategic directions
regarding how existing guidelines should be revisited and used to
develop future guidelines and recommendations. However, such
efforts must consider COVID-related psychosocial factors and
age-specific behavioral constructs for achieving optimal
appropriateness.
The prevention of unhealthy screen use and associated health
outcomes may require specific interventions that acknowledge
the unique variances of the quantity and quality of different
screen types. For instance, individuals watching television may
have different screen use levels than those using social media
in smart devices. Targeted interventions should emphasize
delivering mass media and online-based health communica-
tions, focusing on diverse populations with varying screen time.
Such segments of individuals with specific digital behavior may
require personalized interventions for preventing unhealthy screen
use. Additionally, place and population-specific limitations and
opportunities for digital health technologies should be explored
for optimal implementation of such intervention49,50. Strategies
such as setting limits for screen-based educational or institu-
tional activities complemented by planned exercises that involve
offline communications and activities can be useful for people
staying at home and attending online sessions51.
Both digitally and traditionally delivered interventions should
aim not only to make people aware of the adverse conse-
quences of screen time but also enable them to engage in active
lifestyles, improved dietary practices, and healthier behaviors
that promote individual health and wellbeing35,52. It would be
necessary to create enabling environments at home or
communities that may allow off-screen in-person physical and
psychosocial activities that do not compromise safety
measures related to COVID-19 while protecting individuals
from an unhealthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, psychosocial interven-
tions during COVID-19 should aim for improving social capi-
tal and community-level determinants of health that facilitate
sustainable health and wellbeing53. Such interventions should
be evidence-based and culturally appropriate, incorporating the
perspectives of primary users, healthcare providers, and
communities. Local, national, and global healthcare organiza-
tions and scientific societies may play critical roles by providing
updated evidence and recommendations that should be widely
communicated for developing multilevel strategies that promote
healthier screen use choices for individuals and populations51,54.
Conclusions
COVID-19 has affected many aspects of human lives, including
the patterns of digital screen use. Previous literature describes
the varying levels of health impacts associated with screen
time, whereas a growing number of recent studies have shown a
rising trend of screen time in different populations with pos-
sible health impacts. Prospective research may provide further
insights into how different types and amounts of screen time may
influence health outcomes across populations. As different
populations may have varying screen use behavior, and associ-
ated health outcomes, healthcare providers and decision-makers
should emphasize on empowering those populations to adopt
healthier lifestyles and behaviors. It is critical to use the
available evidence and adopt multilevel measures for prevent-
ing unhealthy screen time and other behaviors that may impact
health and wellbeing among individuals at risk.
Data availability
No data are associated with this article.
Page 5 of 8
F1000Research 2021, 10:81 Last updated: 11 FEB 2021
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... Multiple studies associated the COVID-19 related increased screen time and decreased physical activity with mental health problems (e.g. [52,53]). The pandemic itself and consequences of the lockdowns for people's lifestyles have been identified as risk factors for psychological problems. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major source of stress for a majority of people that might have negative long-term effects on mental health and well-being. In recent years, video games and their potential positive effects on stress relief have been researched and “relaxation” has been an important keyword in marketing a certain kind of video game. In a quasi-experimental design, this study investigated the increase of average daily player peak (ADPPs) for the COVID period compared to the pre-COVID period and if this increase was significantly larger for relaxing games in contrast to non-relaxing games. Results showed a medium-sized increase of ADPPs over all types of games but no difference between relaxing games and non-relaxing games. These results are discussed in regards to their potential of presenting gaps between the current theoretical models of the influence of video games on mental health and actual observed player behaviour.
... The increase in edits and newcomers may partially be due to the prior increase in Wikipedia readership, as a certain proportion of readers turns into contributors because of various motivational factors 27,28 . In addition, we theorize that increased screen time and Internet exposure 19,20 during the mobility restrictions lead to Wikipedia readers spending more time editing, possibly increasing the reader-to-editor turnover rate. Tracing the transformation of readers into editors during this pandemic in more detail is a promising avenue for future work. ...
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... A second Canadian study collaborated this finding with results indicating adults with an active lifestyle, rather than a sedentary one with higher screen time, had better overall and mental health [11]. For these reasons, including the unusually rapid increase in screen time due to the global pandemic, researchers have suggested acknowledging "this upcoming public health crisis and adopt mitigation strategies that may prevent the health hazards associated with increased screen time" [47]. ...
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The recent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in stay-at-home orders and lockdowns around the world. With these restrictions, there has been an increase in screentime and a decrease in physical activity. Therefore, adverse health effects associated with a sedentary lifestyle have also increased. In this study, we designed a new smart orthopedic backrest, called MoveSmart Backrest, that uses persuasive technologies to promote physical activity amongst users. By mobilizing mixed methodology, our study investigates how users perceive three different user interaction techniques-tactile, auditory, and visual-as motivators to increase physical activity and decrease long sitting times. Our initial findings show that two-thirds of the participants would purchase and use such a product. Additionally, the majority of participants preferred the tactile interaction (vibration) as a trigger to be more active. We suggest that our study's results could be applied to similar products and technologies developed to benefit people who spend long periods sitting.
... 7 The various governments' proposal on involuntary social isolation measures caused many people to spend more time with their electronic devices reaching to increase as large as more than 80%. 8 So, it comes as no surprise that downloads of top religious apps have also increased, by more than 300% from March to August of 2020, as compared to 2019. 9 Although the top apps are about Bible content, there has been increasing activity to create more powerful apps. ...
... Increased screen time for work and leisure during COVID-19 is associated with a host of mental and physical health issues (Sultana et al., 2020). Therefore, limiting screen time in areas where it is possible, such as conducting meetings over the phone but therapy sessions over videoconferencing, or taking screen breaks in between sessions (even for a couple of minutes), is important. ...
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... Bu kısıtlamalar tüm bireylerin hayat akışlarını değiştirdiği gibi (Cao ve diğerleri, 2020;Haleem, Javaid ve Vaishya, 2020) okula devam eden çocuklar da (Çaykuş ve Çaykuş, 2020;Onyema ve diğerleri, 2020) olumsuz olarak etkilenmiştir. Çocukların evde geçirdikleri süreçte fiziksel etkinliklerin ve dışarıda oynadıkları oyun sürelerinin azaldığı (Chen ve diğerleri, 2020;Hu, Lin, Chiwanda Kaminga ve Xu, 2020), ekran başında daha uzun süre vakit geçirdikleri (Sultana, Tasnim, Bhattacharya, Hossain ve Purohit, 2020), uyku rutinlerinin ve kalitesinin değiştiği (Moore ve diğerleri, 2020;Xiao, Zhang, Kong, Li ve Yang, 2020) belirlenmiştir. Dolayısıyla evde geçirilen bu sosyal izolasyon sürecinin çocukları birçok alanda etkilediği yapılan araştırmalarda görülmektedir. ...
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Chapter
Coronavirus disease 2019 referred to as COVID-19 is a disease that has out-spread globally leading to a pandemic. As of 11 August 2021, the worldwide situation as per WHO’s dashboard shows 203,944,144 confirmed cases and 4,312,902 deaths. The pandemic has remodelled the manner of living for all humans both in an extensive and small-scale manner. People had to create a novel transient routine to cope with the unfamiliar times. Several people started staying at home and saw their workplaces shift from the office to behind laptop screens. Some businesses burgeoned in the lockdown, while others declined. Organizations underwent digital evolution, and people spent a greater percentage of their day online. For instance online grocery shopping, using different platforms for e-learning, working from home and net banking comprised the everyday to-do list. Given the aforementioned changes in the world, there have bound to be various changes in one’s own lifestyle. Conducting a survey on screen time was crucial for finding out the basis of the hypothesis proposed by the authors. By testing the hypothesis and achieving a strong result, the authors wanted to determine how the increase in screen time might have an impact on the different sectors. The results of hypothesis testing served as an inspiration to work on stock prices data of distinct sectors such as IT, FMCG, aviation, hospitality and analyse trends on the basis of parameters such as stock price, moving averages, volume and cumulative returns from March 2020 to July 2021.
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In this study, we aimed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the amount and pattern of screen time among college students. The relationship between increased screen time and quality of life (QoL), COVID-related stress, and personality traits were also explored. A cross-sectional online survey-based study was conducted among Indian college students who were recruited by purposive sampling. Details regarding socio-demographics, amount and pattern of screen time usage, change in screen time patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic, and COVID-related stress were collected. In addition, personality traits and QoL were assessed with validated questionnaires. A total of 731 responses (51% female, mean age 20.7 years) were analysed. Of the participants, 93.2% self-reported an increase in daily screen time during COVID-19. The predominant reasons for the increased screen time were educational screen time (89.6%), streaming or watching videos for entertainment (82.8%), use of social media for non-communication purposes (78.1%), communication with friends and/or family members (76.2%), reading or watching news (65.9%), and interactive recreational screen time (44.7%). A small but significant negative correlation between increased screen time and QoL (rs = -0.154, p < .001) was found. Increased screen time due to the use of social media for non-communication purposes was associated with poorer QoL (U = 32947.50; p = .02) and greater COVID stress (U = 32381.50; p = .01). Educational screen time was the most common cause for increased screen time among college students and was not associated with negative effects on QoL. The context and purpose of screen time appears to be important in ascertaining the impact of screen time on QoL.
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With more than 65 million confirmed cases and over 1.5 million case-fatalities around the world, the coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) pandemic had changed the dynamics of human lives globally. Different Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques are widely used across scientific disciplines, including public health, since the mid-1960s. In a study in 2014, it was found that one- fourth of the studies out of the reviewed 829 articles used GIS in some way, especially for infectious disease mapping. Recently, GIS has played a critical role in understanding the spatial cluster- ing and transmission trend of the ongoing COVID-19. However, it can be argued that the applications of GIS technologies could have provided more insights for research and practice in the con- text of COVID-19.
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Background: The extreme social circumstances caused by declared COVID-19 pandemic deeply intervene people's everyday life and should not be neglected but seen through the view of social reality pinpointing the "ordinary" people. In this paper, authors explored basic segments of everyday and their subjective perception to what extent sleeping habits, physical inactivity, physical activity, nutritional habits and smoking have changed. Methods: The online survey was conducted in nine European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) in 4108 participants, aged 15-82 years. The survey took place 30 to 40 days after WHO declared COVID-19 pandemic state, from April 15th to May 3rd, 2020. Results: The results have shown 30 minutes longer sleeping time, 50% longer physical inactivity time, 65% longer screen time, 43% shorter walking time, 24% shorter sport time and 37% longer physical work time. Additionally, body mass gains (0.3 kg) could be explained in 20.6% with meals sizes, unhealthy food consumption, screen time and sport time. Further, respondents reported more regular meals (44%) and healthier meals with less alcohol consumption and less smoking, which have been positive outcomes of home confinement. Conclusion: The findings draw attention to negative changes in everyday praxis (inactivity, body mass gain) after such a short period. Because of possible risk to population's health (especially of countries such as Italy and Spain with serious threat and more stringent measures), findings enable development of recommendations for maintaining healthy lifestyle habits with minimal negative health consequences in similar pandemic circumstances.
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The present study aimed to identify patterns of dietary changes during the COVID-19 pandemic and their associations with sociodemographics, body mass index (BMI) before pandemic, and lifestyle changes in Polish adults and to examine the effects of lockdowns on dietary–lifestyle changes. This study used a cross-sectional online survey to collect data. The k-means algorithm was used to determine of patterns of dietary changes, and logistic regression analyses were performed. During the study period, 43% of respondents decreased physical activity (PA), 49%—increased screen time, and 34%—increased food consumption. Among the three dietary changes patterns, two opposite patterns were found: Prohealthy (28% participants) and Unhealthy (19% participants).The adherence to the Prohealthy pattern was negatively associated with age, but positively with being overweight (aOR 1.31) or obese before pandemic (aOR 1.64). Residing in a macroeconomic region with GDP > 100% decreased adherence to the Prohealthy (aOR 0.73) but increased adherence to the Unhealthy pattern (aOR 1.47). Adults over 40 years old, those living with children, unemployed, those living in a region with a higher GDP, and those not consuming homemade meals could be more exposed to unhealthy behaviors. From a public health perspective, enhancing the message “to be active” during the compulsory isolation period should be prioritized.
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Background: The world is experiencing an extraordinary, life-altering challenge due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, it is unclear whether the lifestyle will change under the situations of COVID-19 epidemic. Objective: To explore perceived lifestyle changes, after the outbreak of COVID-19, and their association with subjective wellbeing (SWB) among the general population in the Mainland China. Methods: An online survey was conducted through a media platform in May 2020. Lifestyle behaviors including leisure-time physical exercise, leisure-time screen time and dietary intake were self-reported. SWB was measured using the General Wellbeing Schedule (GWS). Other covariates including socio-demographic factors, self-rate physical health, perceived social support and loneliness were also assessed by a structured questionnaire. Multivariate ordinal regression method was used to analyze the association between SWB and lifestyle behaviors as well as perceived lifestyle changes. Results: A total of 1,033 participants aged between 18 and 60 years were included in this study. The mean GWS score was 71.7 points and more than half of participants reported no perceived lifestyle changes. About 70% of the respondents reported spending more time on screen, whereas about 30% reported an increased frequency of vegetable and fruits intake after the outbreak of COVID-19. Physical inactivity (odds ratio(OR) =1.16,95% confidence interval (CI):1.02-1.48), infrequent vegetable intake (OR=1.45,95%CI: 1.10-1.90), infrequent fruits intake (OR=1.31,95%CI: 1.01-1.70) and often skipping breakfast (OR=1.43, 95%CI: 1.08-1.91) were associated with lower SWB after adjusting for socio-demographic factors, self-rate physical health, perceived social support and loneliness. Moreover, participants who perceived a decrease in the frequency of vegetable, fruits and breakfast intake were more likely to report lower SWB. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic may have positive or negative impact on some aspects of lifestyle behaviors. Both unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and negative lifestyle changes were associated with lower SWB. Therefore, these findings provide scientific information for the lifestyle guidelines in the management of COVID-19 as well as for the public mental health interventions. Clinicaltrial:
Article
This article explores the gendered realities of work‐life balance in Iceland during the Covid‐19 pandemic, in particular how these societal changes reflect and affect the gendered division of unpaid labor, such as childcare and household chores. The study draws on open ended real‐time diary entries, collected for two weeks during the peak of the pandemic in Iceland. The entries represent the voices of 37 mothers in heteronormative relationships. The findings imply that, during the pandemic, the mothers took on greater mental work than before. They also described intense emotional labor, as they tried to keep everyone calm and safe. The division of tasks at home lay on their shoulders, causing them stress and frustration. The findings suggest that, even in a country that has been at the top of the Gender Gap Index for several years, an unprecedented situation like Covid‐19 can reveal and exaggerate strong gender norms and expectations towards mothers.
Article
Objective Amidst restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID‐19, jokes have surfaced regarding weight gain during the pandemic. The current study documents perceived changes since COVID‐19 and compares these to observed longitudinal changes in reported weight, BMI, and how college students described their weight from January to April 2020. Method Undergraduates (N = 90; 88% female) completed on‐line assessments before and after students were required to leave campus due to COVID‐19. Time 1 and Time 2 surveys collected demographic information, height, weight, and a Likert‐scale rating to describe perceived weight, ranging from 1 = very underweight to 5 = very overweight (weight description). Time 2 surveys added questions for perceived changes since COVID‐19 in body weight, eating, physical activity, various forms of screen time, and concerns about weight, shape, and eating. Results Time 2 surveys indicated perceived increases in body weight, eating, and screen time, and decreases in physical activity along with increased concerns about weight, shape and eating since COVID‐19. Longitudinal data indicated no significant change in weight, body mass index (BMI), or BMI category, but how participants described their weight changed significantly from January to April 2020. Compared to longitudinal changes in BMI category, students' weight description was significantly more likely to fall into a higher category from Time 1 to Time 2. Discussion Shifts in how body weight is experienced in the wake of COVID‐19 that do not align with observed changes in reported weight may reflect cognitive distortions that could increase risk for disordered eating in some individuals.