As Canadian families adapted to changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, their level of technology and media use was likely impacted by the pandemic. Online gaming and streaming activity increased during COVID-19 lockdown in different countries. Recent research found digital engagement (i.e., screen time) increased by 4 hours per day in children during COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Children’s and parents’ technology and media use most likely increased as families coped with stress, entertained themselves at home, and worked at home.
Research is critically needed to clarify children’s technology and media use during the pandemic, as well as parents and children’s perceptions of how technology has been helpful or harmful to children’s mental health, social development, and academic competence. There are now some informative quantitative data on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health but there have been no in-depth qualitative studies that examine the experiences of children’s and parents’ transition to online learning and the use of technology to support learning; social connection; and children’s mental health and well-being.
The present study focuses specifically on children’s technology and media use during the pandemic, as well as parents’ and children’s perceptions of how technology has been helpful or harmful to children’s mental health, social development, and academic competence. Qualitative interviews with children and parents in the Windsor-Essex region will provide an in-depth understanding of how technology impacted children’s experience of the pandemic, including their education, social functioning, ability to cope with the pandemic, and psychological well-being.