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Growing concern; the relationship between screen time and behavior problems in digital era

Evin Ilter Bahadur, Havva Nur Karaca.


Although the physical and psychological effects of digital screens have been shown in studies, its relationship with the behavior of children is still unclear. When, how, and at what ages screen time is associated with behavioral problems continues to be investigated. The study aimed to evaluate the relationship between screen time and behavioral problems. 378 children (preschooler:64, schooler:206, adolescent:108) were included in our study. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, screen and sociodemographic data were filled in by the mothers. An increase in the SDQ score (except for the social score) indicates an increase in behavioral problems. In each group, 75p as high screen time. The median screen time of the preschool, school and adolescent groups was calculated as 3.00hrs.(25p-75p:1.125-5.00), 3.00hrs.(25p-75p:2.00-6.00), 5.00hrs.(25p-75p:3.00-8.00), respectively. The hyperactivity/inattention score of preschoolers who watched screen ≤1hr was significantly lower compared to those with >1hr screen time (p=0.02); In the schooler group, the social score was statistically higher and the scores of the other subscales were lower in those who watch screen ≤2hrs. While high screen time was found to be associated with behavioral problems in school and adolescents, it was found to be associated with less hyperactivity problems in preschool period in regression analysis. It was determined that low-screen time was associated with less hyperactivity in preschool period and more behavioral problems in adolescents. While moderate screen time had a positive effect on behaviors in adolescents in paired analyzes, no effect was observed in multiple regressions. Parental screen time was associated with emotional/behavioral problems of preschool and school age children. Child’s screen time and parental screen time should be evaluated for intervention of behavioral problems. Large-scale studies are needed to compare the effect of low and medium-screen time on children's well-being.

Key words: Screen time, parental screen time, behavioral problems

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