Outdoor Play as a Mitigating Factor in the Association between Screen Time for Young Children and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes

Mika Sugiyama, Kenji J. Tsuchiya, Yusuke Okubo, Mohammad Shafiur Rahman, Satoshi Uchiyama, Taeko Harada, Toshiki Iwabuchi, Akemi Okumura, Chikako Nakayasu, Yuko Amma, Haruka Suzuki, Nagahide Takahashi, Barbara Kinsella-Kammerer, Yoko Nomura, Hiroaki Itoh, Tomoko Nishimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Whether the association between higher screen time in infancy and later suboptimal neurodevelopment can be mitigated by frequency of outdoor play is unknown. Objective: To investigate whether higher screen time at age 2 years is associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes at age 4 years and whether this association is mediated by frequency of outdoor play at age 2 years 8 months. Design, Setting, and Participants: Participants were a subsample of the Hamamatsu Birth Cohort Study for Mothers and Children (HBC Study, N = 1258). Children were born between December 2007 and March 2012 and followed up from 1 year 6 months to 4 years. The analysis was conducted from April 2021 to June 2022. Exposures: Screen time longer than 1 hour a day at age 2 years was coded as higher screen time. Main Outcomes and Measures: Standardized scores for communication, daily living skills, and socialization domains of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, second edition, at age 4 years were used (mean [SD], 100 [15]). The mediating factor was frequency of outdoor play at age 2 years 8 months, with 6 or 7 days per week coded as frequent outdoor play. Results: Of 885 participants, 445 children (50%) were female; mean (SD) screen time per day was 2.6 (2.0) hours. Causal mediation analyses revealed that higher screen time at age 2 years was associated with lower scores in communication at age 4 years (nonstandardized coefficient b = -2.32; 95% CI, -4.03 to -0.60), but the association was not mediated by frequency of outdoor play. Higher screen time was also associated with lower scores in daily living skills (b = -1.76; 95% CI, -3.21 to -0.31); 18% of this association was mediated by frequency of outdoor play. Frequency of outdoor play was associated with socialization (b = 2.73; 95% CI, 1.06 to 4.39), whereas higher screen time was not (b = -1.34; 95% CI, -3.05 to 0.36). Conclusions and Relevance: Higher screen time at age 2 years was directly associated with poorer communication at age 4 years. It was also associated with daily living skills, but frequency of outdoor play at age 2 years 8 months alleviated it, suggesting outdoor play mitigated the association between higher screen time and suboptimal neurodevelopment. Future research should specify the nature of the associations and intervention measures, enabling targeted interventions that reduce the potential risk in screen time..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Volume177
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 6 Mar 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Outdoor Play as a Mitigating Factor in the Association between Screen Time for Young Children and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this