Does Early Childhood Screen Time Predict Poorer Wellbeing

    Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution


    Purpose: Emerging literature shows that screen time during early childhood may be detrimental to children’s health and development. However, little is known about how screen time may be associated with children’s wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to investigate possible dose-response associations of young children’s screen time with their later wellbeing.
    Methods: IDEFICS is a prospective cohort study with an intervention component. Data were collected in 2007/2008 and 2009/2010. Participants were 3604 children from eight EU countries aged between two and six years who participated in the longitudinal component of the IDEFICS study only and not in the intervention. In total, six indicators of wellbeing from two validated instruments were used as outcomes at follow-up: Peer problems and emotional problems from the SDQ; emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, family functioning and social networks from the KINDL. Each scale was dichotomized to identify those children at risk of poorer outcomes. Indicators of screen time (week and weekend day TV and computer use) from baseline were used as predictors.
    Results: Associations varied between boys and girls; however were all in the expected direction. TV viewing, either week or weekend day, was more consistently associated with outcomes than computer use. Across associations, children were at between 1.2 and 2.0 times increased risk of adverse outcomes for emotional problems and family functioning for each additional hour of TV or computer use, depending on the outcome.
    Conclusions: Early childhood screen time is associated with some indicators of wellbeing. Further research is required to identify
    potential mechanisms.

    Together with the IDEFICS Consortia: Trina Hinkley, Vera Verbestel, Wolfgang Ahrens, Lauren Lissner, Dénes Molnár, Luis A. Moreno, Iris Pigeot, Hermann Pohlabeln, Paola Russo, Toomas Veidebaum, Michael Tornaritis, Garrath Williams, Stefaan De Henauw & Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij.
    Period22 May 2014
    Event titleISBNPA 2014 Annual Meeting: Promoting Healthy Eating and Activity Worldwide
    Event typeConference
    Conference number13
    OrganiserInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    LocationSan Diego, United StatesShow on map