From the Journals

More time with digital media impacts childhood well-being



In school-aged children, increased digital media exposure had an inverse dose-dependent relationship with what parents perceived to be markers of their children’s positive well-being, according to Stephanie Ruest, MD, of Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Providence, R.I., and her associates.

In a study surveying parents from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, behavior of 64,464 children aged 6-17 years was examined. Results found that 31% of children were reported to have a combined daily digital media exposure (DME) of less than 2 hours/day, 36% had 2-4 hours, 17% had 4-6 hours, and 16% had at least 6 hours/day of DME. Among the children with less than 2 hours of DME, 38% had access to media devices in their bedroom, compared with 73% in the greater than 6-hour exposure group.

A teenager in bed looks at her mobile phone. maewjpho/Thinkstock
Of the five childhood flourishing markers (completing homework, caring about academics, finishing tasks, staying calm when challenged, and showing interest in learning), 88% of children overall usually/always completed their homework, 87% usually/always cared about doing well in school, 67% usually/always finished tasks that they start, 68% usually/always stayed calm when faced with challenges, and 86% usually/always showed interest and curiosity in learning new things.

Additionally, children who had 2-4 hours of DME per weekday not related to schoolwork had 22% lower odds of always/usually finishing their homework, compared with children who had less than 2 hours. Children with 4-6 hours/day had 46% lower odds and those with greater than 6 hours/day had 57% lower odds of demonstrating this marker, compared with children with less than 2 hours (P less than .001). “There was a similar decrease in odds seen with each of the remaining four flourishing markers (test for trend P less than .001 for each marker),” Dr. Ruest and her associates said.

“DME, when measured in combined daily hours, is inversely associated with behaviors and attitudes that have been identified as markers of childhood flourishing in a dose-dependent manner,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies should continue to work towards elucidating the complex relationship between total DME time in conjunction with the content of the media and how the interplay affects childhood flourishing.”

SOURCE: Ruest S et al. J Pediatr. 2018 Feb 1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.12.016.

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