Background: Screen time in children is a growing problem all over the world. Screen time of Sri Lankan school children has not been published before. The objective of this study is to determine the impact of screen time on the academic performances and the behaviour of children in primary classes in Kandy district, Sri Lanka.
Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in 1200 school children from grade 3 to 5, representing 40 schools in the Kandy district, Sri Lanka. Data collection was done using pretested validated questionnaires and general education test papers. Parents and class teachers answered questions related to children’s screen time and the children sat for the general education test.
Results: Response rate was 65.6% (n=787). Mean age of study group is 8.6 years (SD=1). The mean (95% CI) screen time= 36.8 (32.5 to 41.0) min/day during week days & 56.8 (50.5 to 63.0) min/day during weekends. 6% of children during weekdays and 12% of children during weekend have television time more than 2 hours/day. Screen time of students is associated with the TV time of parents during weekdays and weekends (p=0.01). Time spent on studies during weekdays is associated with marks obtained in the assessment (p=0.023), but no evidence for association with screen time (p=0.19, p=0.14).
Marks obtained in the assessment is associated with reduction of study time at home due to screens (p<0.01). Violent scenes in screen time is proportionally associated to Total screen time score (p<0.01) and inversely proportionate to marks obtained in the assessment (p=0.01). Change in behaviour following screen time exposure is clearly associated with total screen time score (p<0.01)
Conclusions: Mean screen time of primary school children in Kandy district is within accepted limits, but considerable percentage of children are having screen time of more than 2 hours. Reduction of study time due to screens is associated with poor academic performances. Screen time is associated with behavioural changes in children. We recommend that National screen time guidelines should be produced to create awareness on the harmful effects of screen time.
Published on: Dec 18, 2019 Pages: 47-52
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