Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on school-aged children’s physical activity, screen time, and sleep in Hong Kong: A cross-sectional repeated measures study

Hung-Kwan SO, Gilbert T. CHUA, Ka-Man YIP, Keith T. S. TUNG, Rosa S. WONG, Hung Tak Lobo LOUIE, Winnie W. Y. TSO, Ian C.K. WONG, Jason C. YAM, Mike Y. W. KWAN, Kui-Kai LAU, Judy K. W. KONG, Wilfred H. S. WONG, Patrick IP

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Despite concerns about the negative effects of social distancing and prolonged school closures on children’s lifestyle and physical activity (PA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, robust evidence is lacking on the impact of the pandemic-related school closures and social distancing on children’s wellbeing and daily life. This study aimed to examine changes in the PA levels, sleep patterns, and screen time of school-aged children during the different phases of the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong using a repeated cross-sectional design. School students (grades 1 to 12) were asked to report their daily electronic device usage and to fill in a sleep diary, recording their daily sleep onset and wake-up time. They were equipped with a PA monitor, Actigraph wGT3X-BT, to obtain objective data on their PA levels and sleep patterns. Students were recruited before the pandemic (September 2019–January 2020; n = 577), during school closures (March 2020–April 2020; n = 146), and after schools partially reopened (October 2020–July 2021; n = 227). Our results indicated lower PA levels, longer sleep duration, and longer screen time among participants recruited during school closures than those recruited before the COVID-19 outbreak. Primary school students were found to sleep on average for an extra hour during school closures. The later sleep onset and increased screen time documented during school closures persisted when schools partially reopened. Our findings illustrate the significant impact of social distancing policies during the COVID-19 pandemic on the sleep pattern, screen time, and PA level in school-aged children in Hong Kong. Professionals should urgently reinforce the importance of improving physically activity, good sleep hygiene, and regulated use of electronic devices for parents and school-aged children during this unprecedented time. Copyright © 2022 by the authors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number17
Early online date24 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2022

Citation

So, H.-K., Chua, G. T., Yip, K.-M., Tung, K. T. S., Wong, R. S., Louie, L. H. T., . . . Ip, P. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on school-aged children’s physical activity, screen time, and sleep in Hong Kong: A cross-sectional repeated measures study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(17). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191710539

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • School closures
  • School-aged children
  • Physical activity
  • Screen time
  • Sleep
  • Hong Kong

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