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Screen time of infants in Sydney, Australia: a birth cohort study
  1. Meena Chandra1,
  2. Bin Jalaludin2,3,4,
  3. Susan Woolfenden5,6,
  4. Joseph Descallar3,7,
  5. Laura Nicholls8,9,
  6. Cheryl Dissanayake10,
  7. Katrina Williams11,12,13,
  8. Elisabeth Murphy14,
  9. Amelia Walter6,8,
  10. John Eastwood1,3,
  11. Valsamma Eapen3,8,9
  12. The Watch Me Grow Study Group
  1. 1Department of Community Paediatrics, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Epidemiology Group, Healthy People and Places Unit, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  7. 7South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  8. 8Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry South Western Sydney Local Health District (AUCS), Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
  9. 9School of Psychiatry & Ingham Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  10. 10Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  11. 11Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  12. 12Developmental Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Australia
  13. 13Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Australia
  14. 14NSW Kids and Families, NSW Ministry of Health, North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Meena Chandra; meenakshi.chandra{at}sswahs.nsw.gov.au and Valsamma Eapen; v.eapen{at}unsw.edu.au

Abstract

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

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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Footnotes

  • 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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