European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 93–102 | Cite as

Individual and social predictors of screen-viewing among Spanish school children

Original Paper


Many children exceed suggested screen-viewing guidelines and this is likely to be a risk factor for obesity. Understanding the predictors of screen-viewing may be the first step in designing interventions that target these behaviours, but there is lack of information on predictors among Spanish children. This study examined associations between individual, friend and family based social variables and screen-viewing behaviours, and how these associations differ by age and gender in a sample of Spanish children. Participants were 247 primary school-aged and 256 secondary school-aged children and their parents. Children reported time spent in screen-viewing and information about individual and friend and family based social variables. Body mass index was assessed and children were classified using International Obesity Task Force cut-off points. Parents reported sociodemographic characteristics and family co-viewing practices. Lower self-efficacy for reducing screen-viewing (console playing p < 0.05; overall p < 0.01), stronger sedentary group-norms (TV p < 0.001; console playing p < 0.05; overall p < 0.05) and stronger social reasons (console playing p < 0.05) were associated with higher screen-viewing. For younger children, parental screen-viewing rules appeared to be significant predictors while family co-viewing practices were significant predictors for older children. Older children (TV p < 0.001; console playing p < 0.01; overall p < 0.001) and males (TV p < 0.01; console playing p < 0.001; overall p < 0.01) were likely to spend more time screen-viewing. Individual and social factors influence children’s screen-viewing and operate differently during childhood. Increasing self-efficacy may be important for screen-viewing based behaviour changes. Friends and parents play a central role, therefore understanding the dynamics of friends and targeting family influences may be critical to the success of interventions to reduce screen-viewing.


Child Adolescent Obesity Television Video games Screen-viewing 


Ethics approval

This study was approved by the University of the Basque Country Ethics Committee.


This work is research arising from a Career Development Fellowship (to Dr. Jago) supported by the National Institute for Health Research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2001) Committee on public education. Children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics 107(2):423–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anastassea-Vlachou K, Fryssira-Kanioura H, Papathanasiou-Klontza D et al (1996) The effects of television viewing in Greece, and the role of the paediatrician: a familiar triangle revisited. Eur J Pediatr 155(12):1057–1060CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anderson DR, Field DE, Collins PA et al (1985) Estimates of young children’s time with television: a methodological comparison of parent reports with time-lapse video home observation. Child Dev 56(5):1345–1357CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ayuntamiento de Bilbao (2009) Observatorio socioeconómico. Lan Ekintza Website. Accessed 2009
  5. 5.
    Bandura A (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bandura A (1988) Organisational applications of social cognitive theory. Aust J Manage 13(2):275–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bandura A (1994) Self-efficacy. In: Ramachaudan VS (ed) Encyclopedia of human behaviour. Academic, New York, pp 71–81Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Baranowski T, Jago R (2005) Understanding the mechanisms of change in children’s physical activity programs. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 33(4):163–168CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baranowski T, Anderson C, Carmack C (1998) Mediating variable framework in physical activity interventions. How are we doing? How might we do better? Am J Prev Med 15(4):266–297CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bercedo Sanz A, Redondo Figuero C, Capa García L et al (2001) Hábito televisivo en los niños de Cantabria. An Esp Pediatr 54:44–52PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bercedo Sanz A, Redondo Figuero C, Pelayo Alonso R et al (2005) Mass media consumption in adolescence. An Pediatr 63(6):516–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bryant MJ, Lucove JC, Evenson KR et al (2007) Measurement of television viewing in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Obes Rev 8(3):197–209CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM et al (2000) Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ 320(7244):1240–1243CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Colwell J, Kato M (2005) Video game play in British and Japanese adolescents. Simul Gaming 36(4):518–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Currie C, Gabhainn SN, Godeau E et al (2008) Inequalities in young people’s health: Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study; International Report from the 2005/2006 survey. Health policy for children and adolescents. Report No: 5. World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Europe, pp 109–112Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Davison KK, Cutting TM, Birch LL (2003) Parents’ activity-related parenting practices predict girls’ physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35(9):1589–1595CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Davison KK, Francis LA, Birch LL (2005) Links between parents’ and girls’ television viewing behaviors a longitudinal examination. J Pediatr 147(4):436–442CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    De Bourdeaudhuij I, Lefevre J, Deforche B et al (2005) Physical activity and psychosocial correlates in normal weight and overweight 11 to 19 year olds. Obes Res 13(6):1097–1105CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dubas JS, Gerris JR (2002) Longitudinal changes in the time parents spend in activities with their adolescent children as a function of child age, pubertal status, and gender. J Fam Psychol 16(4):415–427CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ebbeling CB, Pawlak DB, Ludwig DS (2002) Childhood obesity: public health crisis, common sense cure. Lancet 360(9331):473–482CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Epstein LH, Roemmich JN, Robinson JL et al (2008) A randomized trial of the effects of reducing television viewing and computer use on body mass index in young children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 162(3):239–245CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gorely T, Marshall SJ, Biddle SJ (2004) Couch kids: correlates of TV viewing among youth. Int J Behav Med 11(3):152–163CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Gortmaker SL, Peterson K, Wiecha J et al (1999) Reducing obesity via a school-based interdisciplinary intervention among youth: planet health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 153(4):409–418PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hancox RJ, Poulton R (2006) Watching television is associated with childhood obesity: but is it clinically important? Int J Obes 30(1):171–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hardy LL, Baur LA, Garnett SP et al (2006) Family and home correlates of television viewing in 12–13 year old adolescents: the Nepean Study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 3:24CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) (2005) Encuesta Nacional de Salud 2003. INE Web site. Accessed 26 April 2005
  27. 27.
    Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) (2008) Encuesta Nacional de Salud 2006. INE Web site. Accessed 13 March 2008
  28. 28.
    Jago R, Baranowski T, Baranowski JC et al (2005) BMI from 3–6 y of age is predicted by TV viewing and physical activity, not diet. Int J Obes 29(6):557–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jago R, Baranowski T, Baranowski JC et al (2006) Fit for Life Boy Scout badge: outcome evaluation of a troop and Internet intervention. Prev Med 42(3):181–187CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Jago R, Baranowski T, Baranowski JC et al (2007) Social desirability is associated with some physical activity, psychosocial variables and sedentary behavior but not self-reported physical activity among adolescent males. Health Educ Res 22(3):438–449CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Jago R, Brockman R, Fox KR et al (2009) Friendship groups and physical activity: qualitative findings on how physical activity is initiated and maintained among 10–11 year old children. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 6:4CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Jago R, Fox KR, Page AS et al (2009) Development of scales to assess children’s perceptions of friend and parental influences on physical activity. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 6:67CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Janz KF, Burns TL, Levy SM (2005) Tracking of activity and sedentary behaviors in childhood. The Iowa bone development study. Am J Prev Med 29(3):171–178CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Krosnick JA, Anand SN, Hartl SP (2003) Psychosocial predictors of heavy television viewing among preadolescents and adolescents. Basic Appl Soc Psychol 25(2):87–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lioret S, Touvier M, Dubuisson C et al (2009) Trends in child overweight rates and energy intake in France from 1999 to 2007: relationships with socioeconomic status. Obesity 17(5):1092–1100CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lobstein T, Frelut ML (2003) Prevalence of overweight among children in Europe. Obes Rev 4(4):195–200CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lytle LA, Murray DM, Evenson KR et al (2009) Mediators affecting girls’ levels of physical activity outside of school: findings from the trial of activity in adolescent girls. Ann Behav Med 38(2):124–136CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Malina RM (2001) Tracking of physical activity across the lifespan. Res Dig 3(14):1–8Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Manios Y, Kondaki K, Kourlaba G et al (2009) Television viewing and food habits in toddlers and preschoolers in Greece: the GENESIS study. Eur J Pediatr 168(7):801–808CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Marshall SJ, Gorely T, Biddle SJ (2006) A descriptive epidemiology of screen-based media use in youth: a review and critique. J Adolesc 29(3):333–349CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Mur de Frenne L, Fleta Zaragozano J, Garagorri Otero JM et al (1997) Physical activity and leisure time in children. I: relation to socioeconomic status. An Esp Pediatr 46(2):119–125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Norman GJ, Vaughn AA, Roesch SC et al (2004) Development of decisional balance and self-efficacy measures for adolescent sedentary behaviours. Psychol Health 19(5):561–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Parcel GS, Simons-Morton B, O’Hara NM et al (1989) School promotion of healthful diet and physical activity: impact on learning outcomes and self-reported behavior. Health Educ Q 16(2):181–199PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Proctor MH, Moore LL, Gao D et al (2003) Television viewing and change in body fat from preschool to early adolescence: the Framingham children’s study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 27(7):827–833CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Robinson TN (1999) Reducing children’s television viewing to prevent obesity: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 282(16):1561–1567CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Saelens BE, Sallis JF, Nader PR et al (2002) Home environmental influences on children’s television watching from early to middle childhood. J Dev Behav Pediatr 23(3):127–132PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Salmon J, Timperio A, Telford A et al (2005) Association of family environment with children’s television viewing and with low level of physical activity. Obes Res 13(11):1939–1951CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Salmon J, Hume C, Ball K et al (2006) Individual, social and home environment determinants of change in children’s television viewing: the Switch-Play intervention. J Sci Med Sport 9(5):378–387CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tirado Altamirano F, Barbancho Cisneros FJ, Hernández LM et al (2004) Repercusión de los hábitos televisivos sobre la actividad física y el rendimiento escolar de los niños. Rev Cuba Enferm 20(2):1–6Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Trost SG, Pate RR, Ward DS et al (1999) Correlates of objectively measured physical activity in preadolescent youth. Am J Prev Med 17(2):120–126CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Utter J, Neumark-Sztainer D, Jeffery R et al (2003) Couch potatoes or French fries: are sedentary behaviors associated with body mass index, physical activity, and dietary behaviors among adolescents? J Am Diet Assoc 103(10):1298–1305CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Vandewater EA, Shim MS, Caplovitz AG (2004) Linking obesity and activity level with children’s television and video game use. J Adolesc 27(1):71–85CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Verma S, Larson RW (2002) Television in Indian adolescents’ lives: a member of the family. J Youth Adolesc 31(3):177–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Viner RM, Cole TJ (2005) Television viewing in early childhood predicts adult body mass index. J Pediatr 147(4):429–435CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Wake M, Hesketh K, Waters E (2003) Television, computer use and body mass index in Australian primary school children. J Paediatr Child Health 39(2):130–134CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Wright JC, Huston AC, Vandewater EA et al (2001) American children’s use of electronic media in 1997: a national survey. J Appl Dev Psychol 22(1):31–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Zabinski MF, Norman GJ, Sallis JF et al (2007) Patterns of sedentary behavior among adolescents. Health Psychol 26(1):113–120CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Itziar Hoyos Cillero
    • 1
  • Russell Jago
    • 2
  • Simon Sebire
    • 2
  1. 1.Nursing I Department, Nursing University SchoolUniversity of the Basque CountryLeioaSpain
  2. 2.Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy StudiesUniversity of BristolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations