Physical Activity and Screen Time: Trends in U.S. Children Aged 9 to 13 Years, 2002–2006

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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We examined trends of physical activity and screen time among nationally representative samples of children aged 9–13 years to explore whether children overall are becoming less physically active and less likely to be in compliance with screen time recommendations.


We analyzed Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey data for trends and demographic patterns of free time and organized physical activity, and hours and minutes of watching television and playing video or computer games. Child-parent dyads for 2002 (N = 3114), 2004 (N = 5177), and 2006 (N = 1200) were analyzed.


On the day before the interview, and for free time physical activity in the past week, children reported a significant increase in physical activity from 2002–2006. Screen time levels were stable overall; 76.4% of children met the recommendations of 2 hours or less of daily screen time.


Levels of physical activity among U.S. children aged 9–13 years were stable, or levels slightly improved from 2002–2006. Except for some subgroup differences, trends for compliance with screen time recommendations were also stable from 2002–2006 for U.S. children aged 9–13 years.

Huhman is with the Dept of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Lowry, Lee, Fulton, and Carlson are with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Patnode is with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, OR.