Most children’s digital media use exceeds AAP guidelines
The average amount of time children spend watching television or using a computer or mobile device exceeds AAP recommendations, according survey data published in JAMA Pediatrics.
The AAP recommends avoiding digital media exposure for children aged younger than 18 months, introducing children aged 18 to 24 months to screen media slowly, and limiting screen time to an hour a day for children aged 2 to 5 years.
Sheri Madigan, PhD, of the department of psychology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, and colleagues reviewed screen time viewing habits of nearly 4,000 children whose mothers responded to questionnaires.
Researchers found that 79.4% of 2-year-olds and 94.7% of 3-year-olds exceeded the AAP recommendations for screen time. At age 2 years, factors that were significantly tied to exceeding screen time recommendations were maternal screen time (OR = 2.75; 95% CI, 1.64-4.61), being cared for at home vs. in day care (OR = 1.67; 95% CI, 1.3-2.19) and the year of data collection (OR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.09-1.62). At age 3 years, only maternal screen time was significantly associated with excessive screen time in children (OR = 3.02; 95% CI, 1.1-8.27).
Although screen time increased throughout toddlerhood, by age 7 and 8 years, it fell to less than 1.5 hours per day, researchers added, suggesting that school-related activities filled the void.
“Our results indicate that screen habits begin early,” Edwina Yeung, PhD, one of the study’s authors and an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a press release. “This finding suggests that interventions to reduce screen time could have a better chance of success if introduced early,” she continued.
Researchers also recommended that clinicians work with families to come up with family media plans that can be applied effectively, including encouraging digital media use as a shared experience in the family; determining when, where and how often screens are used; and supporting the need for sleep, physical activity and device-free interactions. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.