There is little current understanding of the influences on sedentary behavior and screen time in preschool children. This study investigated socioeconomic position (SEP) and parental rules as potential correlates of preschool children’s sedentary behavior and screen time.
Data from the Healthy Active Preschool Years (HAPPY) Study were used. Participating parents reported their child’s usual weekly screen time and their rules to regulate their child’s screen time. Children wore accelerometers for 8 days to objectively measure sedentary time.
Children whose parents limited television viewing spent significantly less time in that behavior and in total screen time; however, overall sedentary behavior was unaffected. An association between parents limiting computer/electronic game use and time spent on the computer was found for girls only. SEP was inversely associated with girls’, but not boys’, total screen time and television viewing.
As parental rules were generally associated with lower levels of screen time, intervention strategies could potentially encourage parents to set limits on, and switch off, screen devices. Intervention strategies should target preschool children across all SEP areas, as there was no difference by SEP in overall sedentary behavior or screen time for boys.
The authors are with the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia.