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Digital Media Use in the COVID-19 pandemic

The KiDiCoTi research project was aimed at mapping the way children, adolescents, and their parents used digital technology during COVID-19 lockdown.

Kids' Digital lives in Covid-19 Times (KiDiCoTi)

As part of the Europe-wide study "Kids' Digital lives in Corona times (KiDiCoTi)", parents living in Switzerland and their children ages 10–18 were surveyed in spring 2020. We assessed how children and adolescents and their parents used digital media during the COVID-19-related lockdown.

Of interest were both positive and negative experiences with digital media. The findings are based on an online survey of 480 parent-child pairings in Switzerland. In addition to the analysis of the overall sample, differences between the subgroups were explored. Participating in the Europe-wide study are 15 partner institutions. The present sample is representative to a limited extent.

Latest findings

Maintaining socializing online

More than half of the children and young people surveyed used smartphones, computers, or laptops and messenger apps more frequently than before the lockdown. Many children and young people found it challenging to moderate their media use during the lockdown: More often or much more often than before the lockdown, 41% felt they spent too much time using digital media. Only slightly more than a quarter said that they had this feeling about as often as before the lockdown.

Lilian Suter

"We assume that children and adolescents used digital media more for maintaining social contacts but also more as a pastime and for entertainment", says Lilian Suter, co-author of the study. "In addition, digital devices were increasingly used for school purposes".

Exposed to fake news and hate speech

Two-fifths of parents were concerned about their children being exposed to certain online risks. The most prevalent topics were "fake news", cyberbullying, and too intensive media use. On the part of children and adolescents, 31% perceived an increase in fake news and around a quarter encountered more hate speech online during the lockdown.

Parents strengthen media education

In response to the increased use of media and the change in everyday family life, many parents intensified their media education: 44% of parents were more interested in what their child was doing online than before the lockdown. More than a third of the parents explained to the child more often than before why some internet sites are inappropriate. And a third of the parents increased their control of the child's digital activities and, for example, checked their browsing history.

Gregor Waller

"As children and parents spent more time at home, there was also more room for media education measures", says Gregor Waller, who conducted the study together with his team.

Involved research centres

University of Salzburg (AT), Paedagogische Hochschule Salzburg Stefan Zweig (AT), Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut Hamburg (DE), Université Paris Est Créteil (FR), Université de Poitiers (FR), Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano (IT), Aarhus University (DK), University of Southern Denmark (DK), Kaunas University of Technology (LT), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NO), University of Oslo (NO), Sintef (NO), Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar (HR), Clinical Hospital Centre Osijek (HR), Portuguese Catholic University (PT), University of Lisbon (PT), Institutul de Sociologie (RO), “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University (RO), University of Ljubljana (SI), Autonomous University of Madrid (ES), Autonomous University of Barcelona (ES), University of La Rioja (ES), Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), Masaryk University Brno (Czech Republic), Dublin City University, The National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (IE), University of Malta (MT), UNICEF's Office of Research–Innocenti

The Swiss participation was made possible by the Federal Social Insurance Office, Youth and Media - national platform for the promotion of media skills.

Research team

Project lead

  Gregor Waller

Gregor Waller

Co-Head of Section Media Psychology

+41 (0) 58 934 84 57
gregor.waller@zhaw.ch

Research associates

Duration

2020–2021