Objective: To estimate the prevalence of screen time (ST) and its associated effects, including emotional and behavioral changes, sleep disturbances, and physical activity levels, in children aged 2 to 5 years.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among 400 randomly selected children aged 2 to 5 years in Chandigarh, North India. We used a validated, pretested, semistructured digital-screen exposure and physical activity questionnaire; an abbreviated standard Child Sleep Habit Questionnaire; and a standard Preschool Child Behavior Checklist. We considered ST as excessive if it was more than 1 hour per day as per the American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 guidelines. IBM SPSS Statistics for Macintosh, version 25.0, was used to perform linear regression model analysis and stepwise binary multivariate logistic regression.
Results: Approximately 59.5% of children (mean age 3.5 ± 0.9 years) had excessive ST. ST was higher on weekdays (58.5%) compared with the weekends (56.8%). Higher ST correlated positively with the mother's level of education (r = +0.219) and higher per capita family income (r = +0.227). Screen time was also positively correlated with attending daycare centers (adjusted odd's ratio [aOR] = 1.82, confidence interval [CI] = 1.18-2.81), caregivers ST of more than 2 hours (aOR = 1.68, CI = 1.12-2.56), and the absence of digital-media rules at home (aOR = 3.3, CI = 0.92-11.65). It was negatively correlated (i.e., protective) with lower mother's education (i.e., up to middle school) (aOR = 0.62, CI = 0.41-0.96) and watching educational digital-media content (aOR = 0.53, CI = 0.33-0.87).
Conclusion: We observed a high prevalence of excessive ST among children aged 2 to 5 years. Screen time was significantly associated with being in daycare centers, higher caregivers' ST, lower mothers' educational status, and educational digital content.
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