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Sedentary Behaviors

Narrative

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit children’s media time to 1-2 hours per day.1 This includes time spent watching TV or videos as well as time spent playing video games. In 2007, 7.9 percent of children aged 1-5 years did not watch any TV or videos on an average weekday while 37.7 percent watched 1 hour or less, and 54.4 percent watched more than 1 hour. Among school-aged children (6-17 years), 5.8 percent of children did not spend any time on an average weekday watching TV or videos or playing video games while 44.1 percent spent 1 hour or less, and 50.1 percent spent more than 1 hour.

Among preschool aged children, the amount of weekday media use varied by poverty. Children living in households with incomes less than 100 percent of the Federal poverty level ($20, 650 for a family of four in 2007) were most likely to engage in 4 or more hours of media use per day (19.1 percent) while only 6.6 percent of children living in households with incomes 400 percent or greater of the poverty level reported 4 or more hours of media use per weekday. A similar pattern was observed for school-aged children.

Media use among school-aged children varied by age and sex. While the proportions of males and females engaged in each level of media use were similar among children aged 6-11 years, females aged 12-17 were more likely to report lower levels of weekday media use than their male counterparts. Nearly 8 percent of 12-17 year old girls did not engage in any weekday media use compared to 4.7 percent of boys the same age, and males in this age group were more likely that their female counterparts to engage in 4 or more hours of media use (14.7 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively).

1 Committee on Public Education. Children, Adolescents, and Television. Pediatrics. February 1, 2001 2001;107(2):423-426.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

media use among children by age graph

This image is described in the Data section.

media use among childre by age and sex graph

Data

Media Use* Among Children 1-5 and 6-17 Years of Age, 2007

Percent of Children Aged 1-5 Years:

  • None: 7.9
  • 1 Hour or Less: 37.7
  • 1-4 Hours: 41.6
  • 4 or More Hours: 12.8

Percent of Children Aged 6-17 Years

  • None: 5.8
  • 1 Hour or Less: 44.1
  • 1-4 Hours: 39.3
  • 4 or More Hours: 10.8

*For children 1-5 years of age, this is the number of hours spent watching TV or videos on an average weekday; for children 6-17 years, this is the number of hours spent watching TV or videos or playing video games on an average weekday.

Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Children’s Health. Unpublished data.

Media Use* Among Children Aged 6-17, by Age and Sex, 2007
Media Use Percent of Children
Males 6-11 Years Females 6-11 Years Males 12-17 Years Females 12-17 Years
*This is the number of hours spent watching TV or videos or playing video games on an average weekday.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Children’s Health. Unpublished data.
None 5.6 5.0 4.7 7.9
1 Hour or Less 45.1 47.6 39.3 44.7
1-4 Hours 39.5 38.9 41.2 37.3
4 or More Hours 9.8 8.5 14.7 10.1

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