Association Between Screen Time and Developmental and Behavioral Problems Among Children in the United States: Evidence From 2018 to 2020 NSCH

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Journal of Psychiatric Research


Excessive digital media use has become the common phenomenon among children's lifestyle, and its influences on the plausible accompanying psychological and behavioral problems are gradually investigated. This study aimed to examine the association between screen time and developmental and behavioral problems of children in the United States (US). A secondary analysis based on the data from the 2018 to 2020 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) was conducted. Seven types of developmental and behavioral problems and screen time on weekdays of children were collected through parents/caregivers' recall. Logistic regression models were constructed to determine the associations. Overall, 101,350 children aged between 0 and 17 years old were included in this study and 70.3% of preschoolers aged 0-5 years old and 80.2% of children and adolescents aged 6-17 years old had excessive screen time. Excessive screen time was positively associated with behavioral and conduct problem, developmental delay, speech disorder, learning disability, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and there were significant dose-response relationships. The association between excessive screen time and developmental and behavioral problems was stronger among preschoolers than among children and adolescents. Boys with excessive screen time showed high odds of most types of developmental and behavioral problems. It can be concluded that children with excessive screen time are at high odds of developmental and behavioral problems, especially for preschoolers and boys. Early intervention of digital media use is urgent and essential for children in the US.



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Behavior, Development, Digital media use, Screen time