Objectives To determine the amount of daily screen time in children 18 months of age and ascertain correlations that may be contributing to excessive screen use.
Design A birth cohort was followed with telephone interviews at 6, 12 and 18 months of age. Information about screen time was collected at 18 months.
Setting Parents were recruited from postnatal wards of 2 major public hospitals and at home visits conducted for new mothers within 4 weeks of birth in South Western Sydney (SWS).
Participants Parents of 500 children with infants 18 months of age residing in SWS.
Primary and secondary outcomes Screen time in infants 18 months of age and associated correlations.
Results A large percentage of children 18 months of age (40%) had screen times >2 hours daily. There were significant associations between more than 2 hours of screen time daily and mothers without a partner (OR 4.32 (95% CI 1.67 to 11.15)); having <3 siblings (no siblings: OR 2.44 (95% CI 1.20 to 4.94); 1–2 siblings: OR 2.08 (95% CI 1.06 to 4.08)); an employed father (OR 1.96 (95% CI 1.09 to 3.52)); no outdoor equipment at home (OR 1.89 (95% CI 1.08 to 3.34)) and fewer than 5 outings per week (OR 2.08 (95% CI 1.37 to 3.17)).
Conclusions There is emerging evidence that excess screen time in children causes adverse cognitive, developmental and health outcomes. This study has shown that a large proportion of very young children residing in SWS have screen exposures for >2 hours per day. Factors contributing to excess screen time have also been identified in this study; however, a greater understanding of risk factors needs to be ascertained in order to facilitate greater public health efforts to reduce screen exposure.
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- STATISTICS & RESEARCH METHODS
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Contributors VE, SW, KW, BJ, CD, EM, JE, DB, RC, KS, NS, SE developed the study design and participated in the preparation of the manuscript. EA, BO, AH, AW and JD provided assistance in developing the study protocols and databases, and participated in manuscript preparation. MC, BJ, JD analysed the data. MC, BJ, JD, VE, SW, KW, BJ, CD, EM and JE participated in the preparation of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the content of the manuscript. The ‘Watch Me Grow’ study group provided assistance in developing the study protocols and data collection.
Funding This study (APP 1013690) was funded by the NH&MRC in Australia, through a partnership grant with the New South Wales Department of Health, Kids and Families and in-kind support from University of New South Wales, La Trobe University, South Western Sydney Local Health District and Sydney Children's Hospital Network.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval The University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.
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