Correlates of screen time in the early years (0–5 years): A systematic review

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The majority of young children engage in high levels of screen time. To inform future interventions, knowledge on correlates of screen time is important. This review expands on previous work by focusing on the entire early childhood range, and including a broad focus regarding types of correlates and screens. A literature search (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus) was performed from 2000 up to October 2021. Included studies (cross-sectional and prospective) examined associations between a potential correlate and screen time (duration or frequency) in typically developing, apparently healthy children aged 0–5 years. Methodological quality was assessed by two independent researchers. Fifty-two of 6,614 studies were included. Two studies had high methodological quality. We found moderate evidence for a positive association between an electronic device in the bedroom, parental screen time, having a TV on at home, descriptive norms and screen time, and a negative association between sleep duration, household features, high value on physical activity, monitoring screen time, being in childcare, parental self-efficacy and screen time. We found no evidence for an association for child sex, body mass index, physical activity, temperament, number of siblings, being a first-born, neighborhood-related factors, socio-economic indicators, and parental marital status, physical activity, weight status, depression, wellbeing, sex, age and positive outcome expectations. The evidence for other investigated correlates was inconsistent or insufficient. Despite the evidence for moderate associations, we were unable to draw strong conclusions. More high-quality research is needed to identify correlates of screen time in early childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102214
JournalPreventive medicine reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Correlates
  • Early childhood
  • Infants
  • Pre-schooler
  • Review
  • Screen time
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Toddlers

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