Open Access Research article

Trends in television time, non-gaming PC use and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among German adolescents 2002–2010

Jens Bucksch1*, Joanna Inchley2, Zdenek Hamrik3, Emily Finne1, Petra Kolip1 and the HBSC Study Group Germany

Author Affiliations

1 WHO Collaborating Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Promotion, Bielefeld University, School of Public Health, PO Box 100131, D-33501 Bielefeld, Germany

2 Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews Fife KY16 9TF, UK

3 Faculty of Physical Culture, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Palacký University Olomouc, Tr. Miru 115, 771 11 Olomouc, Czech Republic

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:351  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-351

Published: 12 April 2014



Studies in youth highlight that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen-time behaviours such as television viewing and PC use are associated with a range of health outcomes. However, little is known about recent trends in these behaviours in adolescents. This paper presents time trends in German adolescents’ television time, non-gaming PC use as well as MVPA from 2002 to 2010.


Data were derived from the cross-sectional German Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Analyses were based on 16,918 11-to 15-year olds boys (49.1%) and girls. Outcome variables were time spent in TV viewing and using a PC (weekday and weekend day) as well as the number of days achieving 60 minutes of MVPA. Changes in both screen-time behaviours and MVPA over time were analysed using sex-specific linear regression, controlling for age and family affluence.


TV viewing on weekdays, but not at weekends, declined steadily over time with a difference between 2002 and 2010 of 12.4 min/day in girls and 18.3 min/day in boys (p for trend < .01). We found a strong increase in PC use for non-gaming purposes over time for girls only, with a difference between 2002 and 2010 of 54.1 min/weekday and 68.8 min/weekend day (p < .001). For MVPA we found a slight statistically significant increase in terms of meeting PA guidelines as well as days/week in MVPA for boys and girls (p < .001). In 2010 14.0% of girls and 19.9% of boys met PA guideline.


Although MVPA increased from 2002 to 2010 in German adolescents, the time spent in MVPA was still low. Despite the observed decrease in TV viewing, there was no overall decline in the observed screen-based behaviours, especially for girls. This is mainly due to a marked increase in use of a PC for chatting on-line, internet, emailing, homework etc. among girls during the last ten years which outweighs the corresponding decrease in TV viewing. The findings highlight a need for strategies and interventions aimed at reducing screen-time behaviours and promoting MVPA.

Television time; Non-gaming PC use; Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; Trends; Germany; HBSC