Screen Time and Health Indicators Among Children and Youth: Current Evidence, Limitations and Future Directions

Travis J. Saunders, Jeff K. Vallance

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    119 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Despite accumulating evidence linking screen-based sedentary behaviours (i.e. screen time) with poorer health outcomes among children and youth <18 years of age, the prevalence of these behaviours continues to increase, with roughly half of children and youth exceeding the public health screen time recommendation of 2 h per day or less. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of key research initiatives aimed at understanding the associations between screen time and health indicators including physical health, quality of life and psychosocial health. Available evidence suggests that screen time is deleteriously associated with numerous health indicators in child and youth populations, including adiposity, aerobic fitness, quality of life, self-esteem, pro-social behaviour, academic achievement, depression and anxiety. However, few longitudinal or intervention studies have been conducted, with most of these studies focusing on physical health indicators. While most studies have used self-reported assessments of screen time, the availability of more objective assessment methods presents important opportunities (e.g. more accurate and precise assessment of sedentary time and screen time) and challenges (e.g. privacy and participant burden). Novel statistical approaches such as isotemporal substitution modelling and compositional analysis, as well as studies using longitudinal and experimental methodologies, are needed to better understand the health impact of excessive screen time, and to develop strategies to minimise or reverse the negative impacts of these behaviours. The evidence to date suggests a clear need for policy aimed at minimising the hazardous health consequences associated with screen time among children and youth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)323-331
    Number of pages9
    JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
    Volume15
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun. 2017

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