Child and Parent Physical Activity, Sleep, and Screen Time During COVID-19 and Associations With Mental Health: Implications for Future Psycho-Cardiological Disease?

Lisa S. Olive*, Emma Sciberras, Tomer S. Berkowitz, Erin Hoare, Rohan M. Telford, Adrienne O'Neil, Antonina Mikocka-Walus, Subhadra Evans, Delyse Hutchinson, Jane A. McGillivray, Michael Berk, Sam J. Teague, Amanda G. Wood, Craig Olsson, Elizabeth M. Westrupp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has afforded the opportunity for some to improve lifestyle behaviours, while for others it has presented key challenges. Adverse changes in global lifestyle behaviours, including physical activity, sleep, and screen time can affect proximal mental health and in turn distal cardiovascular outcomes. We investigated differences in physical activity, sleep, and screen time in parents and children during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia compared to pre-COVID-19 national data; and estimated associations between these movement behaviours with parent and child mental health. Cross-sectional baseline data from the COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Study (CPAS; N = 2,365) were compared to nationally representative pre-pandemic data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC; N = 9,438). Participants were parents of children aged ≤ 18 years, residing in Australia. Parents provided self-report measures of mental health, physical activity and sleep quality, and reported on child mental health, physical activity and screen time. Children in CPAS had significantly more sleep problems and more weekend screen time. Their parents had significantly poorer sleep quality, despite increased weekly physical activity. Children's sleep problems were significantly associated with increased mental health problems, after accounting for socioeconomic status, physical activity, and screen time. Poorer parent sleep quality and lower levels of physical activity were significantly associated with poorer mental health. Monitoring this cohort over time will be important to examine whether changes in movement behaviour are enduring or naturally improve with the easing of restrictions; and whether these changes have lasting effects on either parent or child mental health, and in turn, future risk for CVD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number774858
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 Olive, Sciberras, Berkowitz, Hoare, Telford, O'Neil, Mikocka-Walus, Evans, Hutchinson, McGillivray, Berk, Teague, Wood, Olsson and Westrupp. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • Psychiatry
  • psychiatry
  • physical activity
  • children
  • adults
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • sleep
  • screen time


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