Measurement of screen-time among young children aged 0-6 years

Evidence suggests that screen-based devices pose deleterious impacts on children’s health and development. Understanding the extent and severity of such impacts require measuring screen-time with reliable digital tools. 

The aim of a review published in Obesity Reviews was to summarize the characteristics of measurement tools used to assess the screen-time among young children. In addition, this study also evaluated its impacts, such as – psychometric alterations, and examined the time trends associated with screen-time measurement and reporting.

The study entailed a systemic review of articles across three databases using the PROSPERO protocol and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The measured variables were screen-time, exposure or confounder in children – 0-6 years of age. Overall, 35,868 records were identified.

It was found that the majority of measures assessed the duration of screen-time on a usual day and only few analyzed the content or coviewing. About 40% of the records provided a citation for measures. However, only 11% reported reliable and/or valid psychometric properties. 

Of note, the number of studies evaluating mobile devices’ exposure increased drastically after the year 2015. These reports hinted towards the increasing screen-time exposure of young children with technological advancements. 

Although screen-time measurements have evolved and signify the current screen-time exposure among children, the psychometric properties of these measurement tools are yet to be updated. 

Source: Obesity Reviews. 2021 Aug;22(8):e13260.doi: 10.1111/obr.13260. 

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