Many teens spend 30 hours a week on 'screen time' during high school

Mar 12, 2008

While most teenagers (60 percent) spend on average 20 hours per week in front of television and computer screens, a third spend closer to 40 hours per week, and about 7 percent are exposed to more than 50 hours of ‘screen-time’ per week, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Researchers looked at patterns of screen-time through high school, including total time viewing television, video, computer and the Internet. Then they examined the influence of neighborhood social factors on distinct patterns of screen-time.

“Boys and those whose parents had lower educational attainment were much more likely to be in the ‘high-screen time’ group,” said Tracie A. Barnett, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “Teens with high levels of screen time may be at increased risk of obesity.”

They analyzed 1,293 seventh grade students from 10 Montreal high schools. The students in the study had completed in-class questionnaires four times a year for five years, and reported their usual number of hours watching television or videos, and using the computer or surfing the Internet. The researchers defined neighborhoods by census district, looking at average education and income levels within districts.

Barnett and colleagues identified distinct levels of screen-time for each of television/video and computer/Internet use. Overall, their study showed that:

-- 52 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls reported average total screen-time levels above 42 hours per week;
-- 52 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls reported average levels of TV/video use above 23 hours per week;
-- 24 percent of boys and 7 percent of girls reported average levels of computer/Internet use of almost 30 hours per week.

“Most patterns were characterized by sustained levels throughout high school,” said Barnett, a researcher at Sainte-Justine Children’s

Hospital Research Center and assistant professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Montreal in Canada.

Approximately 73 percent of girls and 48 percent of boys were in the ‘low’ total screen-time group, corresponding nevertheless to between 18 and 22 hours of screen-time per week.

However, television still accounts for most of the screen-time, with 85 percent of adolescents reporting less than 10 hours per week of computer/Internet use.

For girls, living in neighborhoods ranked as the lowest third by socio-economic factors increased the likelihood of belonging to the high screen-time group up to five-fold compared to girls in the highest ranked socio-economic neighborhoods.

For boys, living in neighborhoods that had the lowest level of education increased the odds of being in the high screen-time group two- to three-fold, versus their counterparts where education levels were highest.

A more detailed analysis revealed that these associations were more pronounced for television/video watching and weaker for computer/Internet use.

“Researchers need to explore why adolescents’ (notably girls’) levels of especially television and video screen-time viewing through high school are higher if they live in neighborhoods that are socio-economically disadvantaged,” Barnett said. “In the meantime, we should make sure that teens living in these neighborhoods have access to safe and appealing active alternatives to sitting in front of screens.”

Source: American Heart Association

Explore further: Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study defines gas potential into the future

27 minutes ago

The world has enough natural gas to last nearly 400 years at the current rate of consumption or 110 years if production increases at a rate of two per cent a year, according to a Curtin University study.

NASA to conduct unprecedented twin experiment

37 minutes ago

Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into space. The other gets a job as an astronaut, too, but on this occasion he decides to stay home. After a year ...

JPL tests big with a supersonic parachute for Mars

37 minutes ago

"You wanna go to Mars, you wanna go big? Then you gotta test big here," says mechanical engineer Michael Meacham, and testing big is exactly what he and other engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have done to develop ...

Recommended for you

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

1 hour ago

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Internists favor public policy to reduce gun violence

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Most internists believe that firearm-related violence is a public health issue and favor policy initiatives aimed at reducing it, according to research published online April 10 in the Annals of ...

iPLEDGE isotretinoin counseling may need updating

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The iPLEDGE program needs to provide women with information about more contraceptive choices, including reversible contraceptives, according to research published in the April issue of JAMA De ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...