Young Children’s After-School Activities—There’s More to It Than Screen Time: A Cross-Sectional Study of Young Primary School Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Children can spend substantial amounts of leisure time in sedentary activities, dominated by TV/screen time. However, objective real-time measurement of activities after school among young school children is seldom described.


School children (n = 246, 5−7 years old, mean 6.0) and their parents were recruited by random selection from 14 schools across Sydney, Australia. Parents used a real-time objective measure (Experience Sampling Method, ESM) to record children’s activities and whether they were indoors or outdoors at 3 random times each day after school. Data were collected across 4 weekdays in 1 week and then, 13 weeks later, another 4 weekdays in 1 week.


Results were based on 2940 responses from 214 childparent dyads showed that 25% of behavior involved physical activity, 51% was spent in sedentary activities, and 22% was TV/ screen time. Most instances (81%) occurred indoors.


Despite a high proportion of TV/screen time, children were also engaged in a range of other sedentary and physically active pursuits after school. Hence TV/screen time is not a suitable proxy for all sedentary behavior, and it is important to gather information on other non–screen-based sedentary and physically active behaviors. Future research is warranted to further investigate after-school activities in young primary school children.

Engelen ( and Bundy are with the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia. Bauman is with the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Naughton is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia. Wyver is with the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Baur is with the School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Australia.