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  • Author: Katherine L. Downing x
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Katherine L. Downing, Trina Hinkley and Kylie D. Hesketh


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.

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Katherine L. Downing, Jo Salmon, Anna Timperio, Trina Hinkley, Dylan P. Cliff, Anthony D. Okely and Kylie D. Hesketh

Background: Although there is increasing evidence regarding children’s screen time, little is known about children’s sitting. This study aimed to determine the correlates of screen time and sitting in 6- to 8-year-old children. Methods: In 2011–2012, parents in the Healthy Active Preschool and Primary Years (HAPPY) study (n = 498) reported their child’s week/weekend day recreational screen time and potential correlates. ActivPALs measured children’s nonschool sitting. In model 1, linear regression analyses were performed, stratified by sex and week/weekend day and controlling for age, clustered recruitment, and activPAL wear time (for sitting analyses). Correlates significantly associated with screen time or sitting (P < .05) were included in model 2. Results: Children (age 7.6 y) spent 99.6 and 119.3 minutes per day on week and weekend days engaging in screen time and sat for 119.3 and 374.6 minutes per day on week and weekend days, respectively. There were no common correlates for the 2 behaviors. Correlates largely differed by sex and week/weekend day. Modifiable correlates of screen time included television in the child’s bedroom and parental logistic support for, encouragement of, and coparticipation in screen time. Modifiable correlates of sitting included encouragement of and coparticipation in physical activity and provision of toys/equipment for physical activity. Conclusions: Interventions may benefit from including a range of strategies to ensure that all identified correlates are targeted.