The impact of media on young people

Parents of children aged 0 to 6 have started to think more positively about the effect of media on their child, as compared to previous years. For example, a large majority now believe that media can help their child with language development and math skills, among other things. Parents also see media as a tool to keep the child occupied when they do not have the time themselves, or as a sweetener when the child is bored. In contrast, parents are less positive about the effect of media in relation to online education. More than a quarter of parents of 5-6-year-olds indicate that their child’s performance in school has suffered as a result of online education. All this is apparent from the Iene Miene Media survey 2021 that was presented during the start of the ‘Media Ukkie’ Days (26 March to 2 April 2021). 

Date 2022-01-20 Author Dutch Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic excessive use, gaming, media literacy/education, online reputation, potentially harmful content Audience children and young people, media specialist, parents and carers, teachers, educators and professionals

According to parents, media has a positive effect on children 

In the survey, parents endorsed positive effects (including better language development and math skills) more strongly and the negative aspects (including physical complaints) less strongly. Parents with a non-Western migration background, in particular, endorsed the positive effects. On the other hand, they are also more convinced than parents with a Dutch background of the negative effects on the physical health of the child, especially neck and back complaints (54 per cent versus 37 per cent). 

Parents discover a new sense of balance during the second lockdown 

As a result of the lockdown, schools and nurseries were closed and many parents worked from home. Seven in ten parents indicated that the pandemic had an impact on their child's media use. According to parents, this impact was mainly due to the fact that their children spent more time in front of a screen than before and had less opportunity to play with other children. It turns out that in 2021, children spent only a few minutes more on media than they did before the coronavirus pandemic. The Iene Miene Media flash survey, which was previously conducted in 2020 immediately after the stay-at-home measures came into effect, showed that the total screen time during the first lockdown had increased by almost an hour. Parents, therefore, seem to have found more balance in their child's media use during the second lockdown. 

The study also showed that children's daytime media use increased during the second lockdown. This was especially the case in the afternoon (from 39 per cent to 50 per cent). Children mainly went online independently or with a brother or sister, without the support of their parents. In the evening, media use decreased slightly: after dinner, just under six in ten still used media, compared to about two thirds last year. More than a quarter of parents found it more difficult to limit screen time than before. 

Read more about the report and download it in full (in Dutch) here

This article has been adapted from

Find out more about the work of the Dutch Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe

Related news