North American child media guidelines suggest screen-free zones without offering clear evidence and alternative harm-reduction strategies. Our hypothesis is that having a bedroom television during the preschool years will be prospectively associated with mental and physical health risks in adolescence.
Participants are from a prospective-longitudinal birth cohort of 907 girls and 952 boys from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Child outcomes at ages 12 and 13, measured by multiple sources, were linearly regressed on having a bedroom television at age 4.
Bedroom television at age 4 predicted a higher body mass index at age 12 (standardized B = 0.10, p < 0.001), more unhealthy eating habits at age 13 (B = 0.10, p < 0.001), higher levels of emotional distress (B = 0.12, p < 0.001), depressive symptoms (B = 0.08, p < 0.001), victimization (B = 0.07, p < 0.001), physical aggression (B = 0.09, p < 0.001), and lowers levels of sociability (B = −0.09, p < 0.001) at age 12, above and beyond pre-existing individual and family factors.
The bedroom as a screen-based preschool zone does not bode well for long-term cardio-metabolic wellness, mental health, and social relationships.
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All authors have full access to all data in the study and take responsibility for its integrity and the accuracy of its analysis.
The Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development was made possible thanks to the funding provided by the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, the Institut de la Statistique du Québec, the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES), the Ministère de la Famille (MF), the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (MSSS). Source: Data compiled from the final master file ‘E1-E20’ from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998-2017), © Gouvernement du Québec, Institut de la statistique du Québec. No specific funding was received for this secondary data analysis.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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