HealthDay News — Longer screen viewing time among children aged 2 to 3 years is associated with less time engaged in physical activity and more sedentary time at age 5.5 years, according to a study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Bozhi Chen, MPH, from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, and colleagues collected parent-reported information about children’s daily total and device-specific screen viewing time at age 2 to 3 years. Children’s movement behaviors were measured for 7 consecutive days at age 5.5 years using accelerometers. Data were included for 552 children with at least 3 days of accelerometer data.

The researchers observed a significant negative correlation for total screen viewing time at 2 to 3 years with sleep, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at 5.5 years. Children who viewed screens for at least 3 hours per day compared with no more than 1 hour at age 2 to 3 years engaged in more sedentary behavior (480 vs 439.8 minutes) and less light physical activity (356.2 vs 384.6 minutes per day) and MVPA (63.4 vs 76.2 minutes per day) at age 5.5 years. There were no significant between-group differences noted in time spent sleeping.

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“In this rapidly evolving digital age, children’s screen use is a key concern for parents and medical bodies,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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Two authors disclosed financial ties to the nutrition industry; one author has patents pending.

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