With an estimated 1.5 billion children out of school around the world and widespread social distancing measures keeping children confined to their homes, education and socialization have moved online.
Not only are many additional children joining the online world for the first time, but children are also spending longer online than ever before.
Italian operator Telecom Italia reported a more than 70 per cent increase in internet traffic over its landline network in mid-March, which was largely attributed to online gaming platforms such as Fortnite.
Facebook, meanwhile, reports new usage records almost every day across all of its platforms. In places hit hardest by the virus, such as New York – at time of writing, the current global epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic – messaging, voice and video calling have more than doubled on its Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms.
For many children, the global lockdown has also meant going online earlier than may have been expected. One parent explained to ITU News that the sudden shift to home schooling has meant that their children – aged 9 and 11 – have been given used mobile phones earlier than planned, simply so that they can keep up to date with schoolwork, educational activities and friends in this extraordinary time.
This sudden and dramatic rise of screen time is part of a wider trend. In February, a report by the Association of Play Industries found that in less than a decade there has been a 50 per cent increase in children’s discretionary screen time.
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[Source: ITU's Website]