Screentime in primary school children and its associations: a cross sectional study
Keywords:Screen time, Behavioral problems, Language delay
Background: With the advent of new screen technologies, childhood is increasingly being enveloped into a digital world. Parents find it difficult to limit the screen time in children. Although children may benefit from the educational potential of interactive media, there is growing concern about their overuse during the crucial period of rapid brain development. The objective of the study was to assess screen time in primary school children and its association with child behavior and language development.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 1200, primary school children aged 4 to 12 years in Kannur district in North Kerala, India, from September 2019 to March 2020. Pre-structured questionnaires were distributed to parents to assess the total screen time in children and its associations. Behavioral problems were assessed based on Strength and difficulty questionnaire (SDQ). Language and speech problems were assessed using the Language Evaluation and Screening Tool (LEST 3 to 6 years).
Results: Majority of the children (69.4%) had screen time between 2 to 4 hours. Screen time was higher among boys, children belonging to joint families and children having low parental education. There was statistically significant association between behavioral problem and screen time. Language development was reported to be delayed with a statistically significant association with the increased electronic screen use. Visual problems were also found to be more with the increase in screen time.
Conclusions: Screen use is on the rise in young children and it adversely affect their behaviour and language development. Limiting screen time and improving the quality of the screen content for a child’s overall development is the need of the hour.
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