Background: Sedentary behavior is considered a separate construct from physical activity and engaging in sedentary behaviors results in health effects independent of physical activity levels. A major source of sedentary behavior in children is time spent viewing TV or movies, playing video games, and using computers. To date no study has examined the impact of neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) on pre-school children's screen time behavior.
Methods: Proxy reports of weekday and weekend screen time (TV/movies, video games, and computer use) were completed by 1633 parents on their 4-5 year-old children in Edmonton, Alberta between November, 2005 and August, 2007. Postal codes were used to classified neighborhoods into low, medium or high SES. Multiple linear and logistic regression models were conducted to examine relationships between screen time and neighborhood SES.
Results: Girls living in low SES neighborhoods engaged in significantly more weekly overall screen time and TV/movie minutes compared to girls living in high SES neighborhoods. The same relationship was not observed in boys. Children living in low SES neighborhoods were significantly more likely to be video game users and less likely to be computer users compared to children living in high SES neighborhoods. Also, children living in medium SES neighborhoods were significantly less likely to be computer users compared to children living in high SES neighborhoods.
Conclusions: Some consideration should be given to providing alternative activity opportunities for children, especially girls who live in lower SES neighborhoods. Also, future research should continue to investigate the independent effects of neighborhood SES on screen time as well as the potential mediating variables for this relationship.