|Year : 2023 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 17-22
Assessment of parents' perception regarding electronic device use among children following COVID-19 lockdown in the field practice area of Urban Health Center of a Medical College in Anantapuramu
V Kumari Krishna1, Mathi Babu Kishore2, B Pradeep2, ML Sowmithri3
1 Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences, Vikarabad, Telangana, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, MNR Medical College and Hospital, Sangareddy, Telangana, India
|Date of Submission||24-Jun-2022|
|Date of Decision||24-Aug-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||24-Aug-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||02-Dec-2022|
M L Sowmithri
Department of Community Medicine, MNR Medical College and Hospital, MNR Nagar, Fasalwadi, Narsapur Road, Sangareddy - 502 294, Telangana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: The outcome of eLearning is being studied comprehensively. Parents' perception toward e-devices is the financial burden during the lockdown and the outcome of education by remote learning. Receptive adaptation had to be made with inexperience. The new indefinite pandemic had psychological, social, emotional, and financial stress on parents as education of the child is always a priority.
Introduction: Lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a concept of eLearning as schools were shut. This increases access to electronic devices and Internet among the children.
Objective: The objective of this study was to assess parents' perception regarding electronic device use among children following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Materials and Methods: It is a cross-sectional study conducted in the field practice area of Urban Health Centre of a Medical College in Anantapur. The calculated sample size was 178 and the sampling method was convenience sampling. People living in the study area having at least one child of attending school were the study population. Required ethical clearance and individual informed consent was taken. Data were collected using a predesigned, prevalidated, and self-administered questionnaire. It had two scales 10-itemed “perceived demerits of eLearning by parents” and 4-itemed “perceived merits of eLearning by parents.” Statistical analysis was done using descriptive statistics and nonparametric tests.
Results: Out of the total 180 participants, 154 (85.6%) were stressed about the extra cost imposed to facilitate online classes. Perceived demerits of eLearning by parent's scale had a median score of 8 out of 10. However, 167 (92.8%) agreed that eLearning was the only viable option for schooling during the lockdown.
Conclusion: Most of the parents in the study agree with the benefits of eLearning; however, they are aware and weary of its ill effects and stressed due to added costs related to it.
Keywords: Child, COVID-19 pandemic, internet addiction, online education, parents
|How to cite this article:|
Krishna V K, Kishore MB, Pradeep B, Sowmithri M L. Assessment of parents' perception regarding electronic device use among children following COVID-19 lockdown in the field practice area of Urban Health Center of a Medical College in Anantapuramu. MRIMS J Health Sci 2023;11:17-22
|How to cite this URL:|
Krishna V K, Kishore MB, Pradeep B, Sowmithri M L. Assessment of parents' perception regarding electronic device use among children following COVID-19 lockdown in the field practice area of Urban Health Center of a Medical College in Anantapuramu. MRIMS J Health Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Mar 30];11:17-22. Available from: http://www.mrimsjournal.com/text.asp?2023/11/1/17/362525
| Introduction|| |
For the past 20–25 years, there has been an exponential rise in the use of the Internet and connected electronic devices, especially mobiles. Many children, especially older than 10 years of age are engaged in excessive use of the Internet. Many studies had shown that excessive use of electronic gadgets such as mobiles, tablets, and television among children and adolescents results in reduced attention in studies, reduced outdoor activities, decreased interaction with family, and psychological issues like depression.,, Ease of Internet access has resulted in an increased risk of exposure to Internet pornography, violence, cyberbullying, and many other evils., A significant relationship has been observed between depression among parents and excessive use of the Internet among their children., Hence, it is very important for parents to have control over their child's Internet and electronic device usage both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Starting from Wuhan city in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across all the inhabited continents and has become the greatest public health emergency in the current century., It has globally disrupted every aspect of life. It has resulted in the death of millions and economic loss of unprecedented scale. Many governments had used lockdowns and adopted many public health measures including contact tracing, screening, developing infrastructure, and health education campaigns. Total lockdown, which meant limiting or completely abolishing the movement of the people inside or outside a specific area, was an important measure applied by many countries including India to combat COVID-19., Overall, the period of COVID-19 spread, and the subsequent lockdown continues to be demanding on people.
People had poor knowledge regarding the issue and many myths were spread through social media. There was a lot of anxiety about the disease and the livelihood among the people.
People were prone to develop psychological problems like depression.
During the lockdown and following many months, schooling was mostly conducted online. This has resulted in compulsory access to electronic communication devices such as mobiles, computers, or tablets for school-going children. Overall closure of schools and subsequent eLearning has a negative impact on children. Many of them felt isolated and now may be reluctant to socialize. Underprivileged children had to face major issues of food shortage and displacement, for these children prioritizing the budget for eLearning resources seemed much difficult. The problem of Internet addiction among adolescents seemed to be compounded during the lockdown, mainly due to access to the Internet and lack of any other activity.
During the inception of the current study, even after an extensive review of the literature, we were unable to retrieve any locally applicable studies that considered the outlook of the parents regarding the eLearning of their child during the lockdown. Hence, the purpose of this study is to assess the attitude of the parents toward their child's eLearning during the lockdown.
| Materials and Methods|| |
This was a cross-sectional study conducted from July to September 2021, with the aim of assessing parents' perception of merits and demerits regarding electronic device usage among children following eLearning during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was conducted in the field practice area of Urban Health Centre of a Medical College in Anantapur. When this study was conducted, the nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020 was relaxed. However, the schools were not reopened, and classes were conducted online.
After an extensive review of the literature, the investigators were not able to find similar locally applicable studies. Hence, the proportion was assumed to be 50%. Hence, the calculated minimum sample size was 178 (p = 0.5, hence q = 0.5, level of significance = 1%, α = 0.05, i.e., Zα = 2.58, allowable error [15% of p], d = 0.075). The sample size, n = Zα2pq/d2 = 177.77 i.e., 178).
The samples were collected using convenience sampling. People living in the study area having at least one child of attending school were the study population. Required ethical clearance from the institutional ethical committee was taken. Informed consent in writing was obtained from each study subject in a separate drop box. People who were able to read and write in Telegu or English were included in the study.
The study area was mapped and houses with school-going children were numbered with the help of a medical social worker. Starting with the first house, all the subsequent houses were contacted for an interview. Parents were explained the research and voluntary nature of participation. In case when both parents were present and consented, only one parent was included in the study. If the consent was denied or parents were absent or the house was closed then the next house was contacted; there was no extra visit to cover that house. Data collection were stopped once the requisite sample size was covered.
Data were collected using a predesigned, pretested, and self-administered questionnaire present in English and Telegu. The questionnaire was developed and validated with the help of field and language experts. It had multiple sections with the first section being related to sociodemographic factors such as age and gender. Two scales and few relevant stand-alone questions were included in the questionnaire.
Scales used were 10-itemed “perceived demerits of eLearning by parents” and 4-itemed “perceived merits of eLearning by parents.” These were developed by the authors and their face and content validity were approved by the experienced field and language experts. The scales had good internal consistency, Cronbach's alpha, r = 0.726 and 0.835, respectively. For both scales, each question had to be answered as “Yes” and “No,” and during the analysis, these were scored as “1” and “0,” respectively. Finally, a summation of all the scores was made for both scales. The range of possible scores for 10-itemed “perceived demerits of eLearning by parents” and 4-itemed “perceived merits of eLearning by parents” was 0–10 and 0–4, respectively.
Statistical analysis was done using Office 365 and IBM SPSS 22 (IBM Cooperation, Armonk, New York, United Sates of America). It included descriptive statistics and nonparametric test (Mann–Whitney U test).
| Results|| |
One hundred and ninety-seven parents participated in the study; however, 180 questionnaires were complete, and thus, included in the final analysis. The mean age of participants was 40.03 years (± 8.827 years) [Table 1].
Considering the religion of participants 121 (67.2%), 32 (17.8%), and 27 (15%) were Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, respectively. Sixty-two (34.4%) participants were primary school educated, 70 (38.9%) and 48 (26.7%) were secondary school and college educated, respectively. The majority of participants belonged to the low middle class 149 (82.8%), whereas the remaining belonged to the middle class. One hundred and forty (77.8%) had only one child currently attending school, and 40 (22.2%) had two children currently attending school. When inquired about the gender of child/children currently attending school, 121 (55%) were boys and 99 (45%) were girls. Considering the schooling year of participants' children, 117 (53.2%) were attending primary school and 103 (46.4%) were attending secondary school. Since the past year, all the children were attending eLearning and physical schools were not restarted at the time of data collection.
Increased expenses for eLearning for the participants (parents) include the data plan and procurement of extra electronic devices for schooling. The mean expenditure for the eLearning facility was Rs. 1305.56 (± 479.7). Considering devices for eLearning, 180 (100%) of participants provided smartphones and Internet connections for their children, in addition to this 19 (10.6%) and 28 (15.6%) had also provided tablets and PC/laptops, respectively. The expenditure burden of eLearning facilities (relative to income) for the participants was 03%–25% (mean 11.4%, standard deviation ± 6.6%, and median = 9.1%) of their income. The majority of participants, 117 (65%) felt stressed due to added expense of procuring the device to facilitate eLearning. While 180 (100%) felt that the monthly Internet data plan required for eLearning was an additional economic burden.
Considering “perceived demerits of eLearning by parents” scale, following pattern of answering was observed [Table 2]. The mean score was 7.22 (± 2.26) and the median score was 8. However, it was not statistically associated with any sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, education, the religion of the participant, or excess expenditure.
|Table 2: Pattern of answering by participants for the scale “perceived demerits of eLearning by parents”|
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Observations of the scale “perceived merits of eLearning by parents” are depicted in [Table 3].
|Table 3: Pattern of answering by participants for the scale “perceived merits of eLearning by parents”|
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The mean score was 2.88 (± 1.39) and the median score was 3. However, it was not statistically associated with any sociodemographic factors.
Considering stand-alone questions, the majority of the participants 150 (83.3%) perceived that during the lockdown months their children used the e-devices and Internet excessively as compared to the pre-COVID period. While 111 (61.7%) believe that even after lockdown their children have continued using the e-devices and Internet excessively. One hundred and sixty-seven (92.8%) parents agreed with the statement that the eLearning was only viable option for schooling during the lockdown.
| Discussion|| |
In our study, we observed that all the parents had to bear increased expenses like procurement of electronic devices or Internet connections to facilitate their child's eLearning. The majority of (85.6%) them were stressed due to this added expenditure. Parallel to Abuhammad S, a study in Jordan found that one of the important barriers for parents in facilitating eLearning for their children was financial (63%). Many parents identified the costs of electronic devices required for eLearning and the recurring cost of Internet connection as financial challenges.
We observed that the mean score of “perceived demerits of eLearning” was very high. More than two-thirds of parents believed that their child was spending excessive time on these devices, whereas over 90% of parents thought the devices were used for noneducational purposes also. Which was similar to Hosokawa Katsura study in Japan found that children and adolescents spend 7–8 h and children's usage of media with educational content have been 18.3% (n = 42), and users using media that did no longer have educational content material have been 81.7%.
More than 50% of parents were worried that their child was not spending time with family, getting irritable on trying to limit the usage of these devices, and worried about mobile addiction among the children. A similar study conducted by Jennifer Ihm found that smartphone addiction becomes negatively associated with social engagement. Sixty percent of parents thought the use of these devices may finally harm the academic performance of the child and their child may be exposed to undesirable material. Similarly, most of the parents were worried about decreasing physical activity and altered the eating habits of their children.
In a study conducted by Łuszczki et al. found that dietary variations and patterns of daily activity change (reduced sleep duration with higher sleep quality and reduced physical activity). Along with a decline in smartphone usage, the pandemic was also accompanied by a rise in general media usage in a similar study conducted by Dong et al. among Chinese parents in 2020, they observed that the parents had a negative attitude regarding eLearning. They were worried about its potential for developing Internet addiction as children lack self-control. Hence, the findings made by Dong et al. were like our findings.
The present study reflects that parents believed that eLearning could be beneficial for their children. Just over 50% believed that exposure to electronic devices and the Internet will be useful for their child's future success.
In a study conducted by Nayak, Jogendra in India identified that the use of electronic devices impairs students' ability to learn and their overall academic performance which was in contrast to our study. While the majority of them believed that child has become more knowledgeable, has a better understanding of the subject, and overall, better in studies.
More than 80% believed that eLearning and lockdown have resulted in excessive use of electronics and Internet among the children. While more than 60% believed that the habit has continued even after the lockdown is lifted. Which was similar to the study conducted by Limone Toto found that in actuality, more time was being spent staring at devices or being hyperconnected to the Internet. More than 90% of parents thought the eLearning was only feasible option during the lockdown. In a study conducted in Indonesia, it was observed that the majority of parents believed that learning from home is the best option during the pandemic.
Reporting bias cannot be eliminated completely, and verification of all answers is not possible. Many confounders such as emotional state and past experiences cannot be addressed.
| Conclusion|| |
Most of the parents were supportive of eLearning as means of schooling during the lockdown period. They were also aware and positive regarding the benefits and advantages that electronic devices could impart to their child. However, the cost related to it was a matter of anxiety for them. Similarly, most of them were aware and worried about the ill effects of Internet addiction. They also believed that the lockdown coupled with the eLearning initiative of the schools has facilitated in habit of overuse of these devices among their children, whereas the majority of them believed that the same habit has been retained even after the lockdown.
Easy financing options and subsidies on required material targeted toward schooling children should have been provided during the lockdown to reduce the economic burden on parents. Parents should have been counseled regarding the devices, addiction potential, and hazards before eLearning commenced. Similarly, they should have been educated about various parental control methods available to limit the usage of the devices by their children. Currently, they should be helped in developing a better rapport with their children and help them in limiting the usage of e-devices and the Internet.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]