Feasibility of two screen media reduction interventions: Results from the SCREENS pilot trial

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 15;16(11):e0259657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259657. eCollection 2021.


Background: Advancements in screen media devices has transformed the way families engage with screen media. Although these modern devices offer many opportunities, e.g. communication and research online, an in-depth understanding of how these devices affect our health, is lacking. Before a definite randomized controlled trial, the SCREENS pilot study was conducted to assess compliance to and feasibility of two interventions, a measurement protocol, and a survey-based recruitment strategy. Also, the potential of the interventions to impact leisure time spent non-sedentary in children six-to-ten years of age was explored.

Methods: Families (N = 12) were recruited through a population-based survey sent out in October of 2018 to adults (N = 1,675) in the Municipality of Middelfart, Denmark. Families were randomized to one of two two-week interventions; an Evening Restriction intervention (no screen media use after six pm) and a General Restrict intervention (limit entertainment-based screen media to three hours/week/person). Intervention compliance was assessed objectively by measuring household TV usage, smartphone and tablet activity via an application, and via screen media diaries. During baseline and follow-up, as part of larger protocol, family members wore two triaxial accelerometers for seven consecutive days. The potential of the interventions to impact non-sedentary time was explored based on means and standard errors (SEs).

Results: Despite almost 85% and 75% reductions in leisure screen media use 0% and 50% of families were compliant in the Evening Restrict group and General Restrict group, respectively, based on strict a priori criteria. Participant feedback indicated that the General Restrict intervention generally was feasibly. Compliance to the accelerometry wear protocol was high (median non-wear was <1 hour/week). Moreover, the recruitment strategy was implemented and was feasible. The General restrict intervention might increase children's non-sedentary time (mean (SE): 36.6 (23) min/day, N = 6).

Conclusions: The General Restriction intervention, the accelerometer wear protocol and recruitment strategy, appeared feasible.

Trial registration: NCT03788525 at https://clinicaltrials.gov [Retrospectively registered; 27th of December, 2018].

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Communications Media*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Smartphone
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03788525
  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.16917691.v1

Grant support

MGBR, JP, AG and LGO were funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant (no. 716657). Website: https://erc.europa.eu/. The funders had no role in the design of the study design, nor did they play a role in the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data from the study. Nor did they have a role in the writing of the study protocol as well as in the decision to submit the report.