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COVID-19, Parental stress, Preschool children, Self-regulation, Technology use



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges and as a result, the health behaviours and stress levels of Ontarian families have been negatively impacted. The purpose of this study was to explore preschoolers’ self-regulation, parenting stress, and technology use in Ontario within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants included 11 parents of preschool-aged children who participated in interviews for the Children’s Technology and Media Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic study. Five themes were generated regarding parenting stress: stress related to their added role as teachers, stress related to their parenting role, cancelled and missed events, isolation, and lack of support. In detailing their child’s engagement in technology, three themes were generated: increased screen time, focusing on technology, and difficulties in emotion regulation. As a result of their parenting stress, three subthemes were generated in their parenting behaviours: using technology as a parenting tool, engaging in reactive parenting, and implementing rules for technology use. This novel study provides insight into the self-regulation of young children and how technology use and parenting stress have impacted this skill in young children living in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results highlight the specific concerns parents have during the pandemic and the ways their children have been impacted by restrictions and increased technology use.