Screen time of infants in Sydney, Australia: A birth cohort study

Meena Chandra, Bin Jalaludin, Susan Woolfenden, Joseph Descallar, Laura Nicholls, Cheryl Dissanayake, Katrina Williams, Elisabeth Murphy, Amelia Walter, John Eastwood, Valsamma Eapen, The ‘Watch Me Grow’ Study Group

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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); 12 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere012342
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

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