'Life in the age of screens': parent perspectives on a 24-h no screen-time challenge

Clin Obes. 2016 Aug;6(4):273-80. doi: 10.1111/cob.12150. Epub 2016 May 31.


Screens have become ubiquitous in modern society. Their use frequently underlies sedentary behaviour, a well-established determinant of obesity. As part of a family oriented clinic offering a 2-year lifestyle program for obese children and youth, we explored parents' experiences with a 24-h no screen-time challenge, an intervention designed to raise awareness of screen-time habits and to help families develop strategies to limit their use. In total, 15 parents representing 13 families participated. A focus group with nine parents and six phone interviews with those who could not join in person were conducted. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed qualitatively. Key elements to successful completion of the 24-h no screen-time challenge emerged, namely: clear rules about permitted activities during the 24-h period; togetherness, i.e. involving all family members in the challenge; and busyness, i.e. planning a full schedule in order to avoid idleness and preclude the temptation to use screens. Our findings suggest that practitioners aiming to increase awareness of screen-time or to limit their use may be more likely to succeed if they include all family members, offer concrete alternatives to screen-based activities and provide tailored strategies to manage discretionary time.

Keywords: Obesity; parents; screen-time; sedentary behaviour.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Rearing / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computers*
  • Data Collection
  • Exercise
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Perception
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Television*
  • Video Games*