Electronic Media Associated With Poorer Well-Being in Children

Main Point:

The use of electronic media, such as watching television, using computers and playing electronic games, was associated with poorer well-being in children.

Published in:

JAMA Pediatrics 


Trina Hinkley, Ph.D., of Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues.


Using electronic media can be a sedentary behavior and sedentary behavior is associated with adverse health outcomes and may be detrimental at a very young age.

How the Study Was Conducted:

The authors used data from the European Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants (IDEFICS) study to examine the association of using electronic media between ages 2 and 6 years and the well-being of children two years later. Questionnaires were used to measure six indicators of well-being, including emotional and peer problems, self-esteem, emotional well-being, family functioning and social networks.


Among 3,604 children, electronic media use appeared to be associated with poorer well-being. Watching television appeared to be associated with poorer outcomes more than playing electronic games or using computers. The risk of emotional problems and poorer family functioning increased with each additional hour of watching TV or electronic game and computer use.


“Higher levels of early childhood electronic media use are associated with children being at risk for poorer outcomes with some indicators of well-being. … Further research is required to identify potential mechanisms of this association.”


Trina Hinkley PhD, Vera Verbestel MSc, Wolfgang Ahrens PhD, Lauren Lissner PhD, Dénes Molnár PhD, Luis A. Moreno PhD, Iris Pigeot PhD, Hermann Pohlabeln PhD, Lucia A. Reisch PhD, Paola Russo BSc, Toomas Veidebaum PhD, Michael Tornaritis PhD, Garrath Williams PhD, Stefaan De Henauw PhD, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij PhD. Early Childhood Electronic Media Use as a Predictor of Poorer Well-being: A Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014; 168(5). doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.94

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 17, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.94)

Editor’s Note:

The authors made funding/support disclosures. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

Media Advisory:

To contact corresponding author Stefaan De Henauw, Ph.D., email stefaan.dehenauw@ugent.be.


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