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From ‘screen time’ to the digital level of analysis: protocol for a scoping review of digital media use in children and adolescents
  1. Dillon Thomas Browne1,
  2. Shealyn May1,
  3. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra2,
  4. Dimitri Christakis3,
  5. Tracy Asamoah4,
  6. Lauren Hale5,
  7. Katia Delrahim-Howlett6,
  8. Jennifer A Emond7,
  9. Alexander G Fiks8,
  10. Sheri Madigan9,
  11. Heather Prime10,
  12. Greg Perlman11,
  13. Hans-Jürgen Rumpf12,
  14. Darcy Thompson13,
  15. Stephen Uzzo14,
  16. Jackie Stapleton15,
  17. Ross Neville16
  18. the Media Impact Screening Toolkit Workgroup of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development
    1. 1Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    2. 2School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, United States
    3. 3University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
    4. 4American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Washington, DC, USA
    5. 5Department of Preventive Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, USA
    6. 6National Institute on Drug Abuse, North Bethesda, Maryland, USA
    7. 7Biomedical Data Science, Dartmouth College, Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States
    8. 8University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    9. 9Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    10. 10Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    11. 11Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
    12. 12University of Lübeck Institute of the History of Medicine and Science Research, Lubeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
    13. 13University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
    14. 14New York Hall of Science, Flushing, New York, USA
    15. 15Information Services and Resources, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    16. 16Physiotherapy and Sport Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
    1. Correspondence to Dr Dillon Thomas Browne; dillon.browne{at}


    Introduction Research on the relationship between digital media exposure and child development is complex, inconsistent and fraught with debate. A highlighted area of inadequacy surrounds the methodological limitations of measuring digital media use for both researchers and clinicians, alike. This protocol aims to (1) identify core concepts in the area of screen time and digital media use in children and adolescents (2) map existing research paradigms and screening/measurement tools that serve to underpin and operationalise core concepts and (3) provide an initial step in integrating these findings into a consolidated screening toolkit. It is expected this enterprise will help advance research and clinical evaluation in fields concerned with digital media use, namely medicine, child development and the social sciences.

    Methods and analysis The planned scoping review will search relevant electronic databases, including Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Scopus, in addition to grey literature. All empirical investigations and presentation of original research will be considered, and measurement/screening tools for digital media usage in children and adolescents will be identified and reported on. Two reviewers will pilot test the screening criteria, and data extraction forms prior to independently screening all relevant literature and extracting the data. A three-stage synthesis process will be used to map the existent measurement and screening tools for digital media usage in children and adolescents.

    Ethics and dissemination There are no ethical considerations for this scoping review. Plans for dissemination include publication in a top-tier, open-access journal, public presentations and conference proceedings. Presentation of the full scoping review has been accepted to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 66th Annual Meeting.

    • measurement
    • child development
    • screentime
    • scoping review protocol
    • digital media use
    • screening tool

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    • Collaborators Member of the workgroup in addition to the authors listed above: Rachel Barr, Daphne Bavelier, Courtney K. Blackwell, Florence Breslin, Joanne Broder, Katherine Cost, Zsolt Demetrovics, Bernard Fuemmeler, John Hutton, Diane Kim, Heather Kirkorian, Monique LeBourgeois, Jessica Mendoza, Martin Paulus, Jaysree Roberts, Thomas Robinson, Cris Rowan, Oren Shefet, Tim Smith, Rachel Waxman, and Paul Weigle. Authors would like to thank Juliette Givelas, Angelina Cleroux, Jackson Smith, Laura Colucci, Ben Southern, Heera Elize Sen, Julianna Lu and volunteer research assistants in the Whole-Family Lab for helping with study coding.

    • Contributors DTB and PH-DP obtained funding, conceptualised the research and edited the protocol. SSM conceptualised the research and drafted and edited the protocol. JS drafted the protocol search strategy and edited the protocol. TA, DAC, LH, KD-H, JAE, AF, SM, GP, HP, H-JR, DT, SU and RN conceptualised the research and edited the protocol.

    • Funding This work was supported by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development (no applicable grant number). This funder, represented by Dr PH-DP, was involved in the design of the study protocol, the writing of the protocol, and the decision to submit the protocol for publication.

    • Competing interests None declared.

    • Patient consent for publication Not required.

    • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.