Screen-Time Policies and Practices in Early Care and Education Centers in Relationship to Child Physical Activity

Amanda E. Staiano, Elizabeth Kipling Webster, Andrew T. Allen, Amber R. Jarrell, Corby K. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Few preschool children meet physical activity recommendations, whereas the majority exceeds screen-time recommendations. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of screen-time policies and practices with children's physical activity and sedentary time in early care and education (ECE) centers. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 104 children (3.3 ± 0.5 years; 50% girls) attending 10 ECE centers in the United States. Physical activity was measured by accelerometry. Screen-time practices were measured by classroom observation and director report. Mixed linear models were used to examine the relationship of screen-time practices with children's total physical activity (TPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time, adjusting for child's age, sex, and BMI z-score and taking into account the clustering of children within each center. Models were repeated to include director-reported active play time as a covariate. Results: More limited/supervised screen-time (by observation) was related to higher TPA (p = 0.0003) and lower sedentary time (p = 0.0003). More limited/supervised screen-time (by director report) was related to higher TPA (p < 0.0001) and MVPA (p = 0.021) and lower sedentary time (p < 0.0001). Associations remained significant when active play time was included as a covariate. TPA was inversely related to computer access (p = 0.0015) and positively related to the use of educational screen-time compared with noneducational screen-time (p = 0.04). Conclusions: Limiting computer usage and ensuring screen-time is educational, and integrated within the curriculum may benefit children's physical activity levels and reduce time spent sedentary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • computer
  • locomotion
  • movement
  • preschool child
  • television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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