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Open Access Research article

Associations between factors within the home setting and screen time among children aged 0–5 years: a cross-sectional study

Valerie Carson1 and Ian Janssen12*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

2 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:539  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-539

Published: 23 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Excessive engagement in screen time has several immediate and long-term health implications among pre-school children. However, little is known about the factors that influence screen time in this age group. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use the Ecologic Model of Sedentary Behavior as a guide to examine associations between intrapersonal, interpersonal, and physical environment factors within the home setting and screen time among pre-school children.

Methods

Participants were 746 pre-school children (≤ 5 years old) from the Kingston, Ontario, Canada area. From May to September, 2011, parents completed a questionnaire regarding several intrapersonal (child demographics), interpersonal (family demographics, parental cognitions, parental behavior), and physical environment (television, computer, or video games in the bedroom) factors within the home setting. Parents also reported the average amount of time per day their child spent watching television and playing video/computer games. Associations were examined using linear and logistic regression models.

Results

Most participants (93.7%) watched television and 37.9% played video/computer games. Several intrapersonal, interpersonal, and physical environment factors within the home setting were associated with screen time. More specifically, age, parental attitudes, parental barriers, parental descriptive norms, parental screen time, and having a television in the bedroom were positive predictors of screen time; whereas, parental education, parental income, and parental self-efficacy were negative predictors of screen time in the linear regression analysis. Collectively these variables explained 64.2% of the variance in screen time. Parental cognitive factors (self-efficacy, attitudes, barriers, descriptive norms) at the interpersonal level explained a large portion (37.9%) of this variance.

Conclusions

A large proportion of screen time in pre-school children was explained by factors within the home setting. Parental cognitive factors at the interpersonal level were of particular relevance. These findings suggest that interventions aiming to foster appropriate screen time habits in pre-school children may be most effective if they target parents for behavioral change.

Keywords:
Child; Pre-school; Television; Parents