Associations between socio-economic position and changes in children’s screen-viewing between ages 6 and 9: a longitudinal study

Ruth E Salway, Lydia G Collison, Simon J Sebire, Janice Thompson, Russell Jago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Objectives: To explore socio-economic differences in screen-viewing at age 6 and 9, and how these are related to different media use.

Design: Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting: Children recruited from 57 state-funded primary schools in Southwest England, UK.

Participants: 1299 children at age 5-6, 1223 children at age 8-9, including 685 children at both timepoints.

Outcome measures: Children’s total screen-viewing time (parent-reported) and time spent using multiple screen devices simultaneously (multiscreen viewing), for weekdays and weekends.

Methods: Negative binomial regression was used to model associations between socio-economic variables (highest household education and area deprivation) and total screen-viewing at age 6 and the change from age 6 to 9. We additionally adjusted for child characteristics, parental influences and media devices in the home. Multiscreen viewing was analysed separately.

Results: Household education was associated with children’s screen-viewing at age 6 with lower screen-viewing in higher socio-economic groups (21-27% less in households with a Degree or Higher Degree, compared to GCSE). These differences were explained by the presence of games consoles, parental limits on screen-viewing, and average parent screen-viewing. Between ages 6 and 9, there were larger increases in screen-viewing for children from A level and Degree households (13% and 6% respectively in the week) and a decrease in Higher Degree households (16%), compared to GCSE households. Differences by household education remained when adjusting for media devices and parental factors.

Conclusions: Children’s screen-viewing patterns differ by parental education with higher levels of viewing among children living in households with lower educational qualifications. These differences are already present at age 6, and continue at age 9. Strategies to manage child sedentary time, and particularly screen-viewing, may need to take account of the socio-economic differences and target strategies to specific groups.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019

Structured keywords

  • SPS Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences


  • screen viewing
  • TV
  • computer games
  • cohort
  • children


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