European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 541–548 | Cite as

The relationship between screen time, nighttime sleep duration, and behavioural problems in preschool children in China

  • Xiaoyan Wu
  • Shuman Tao
  • Erigene Rutayisire
  • Yunxiao Chen
  • Kun Huang
  • Fangbiao TaoEmail author
Original Contribution


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationships between screen time (ST), nighttime sleep duration, and behavioural problems in a sample of preschool children in China. A sample of 8900 children aged 3–6 years was enrolled from 35 kindergartens, in four cities, in two provinces, in China to evaluate the relationships between ST, nighttime sleep duration, and behavioural problems. Children’s ST and nighttime sleep duration were assessed by questionnaires completed by parents or guardians. Behavioural problems were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and the Clancy Autism Behaviour Scale (CABS). Multivariate analysis was used to assess the associations between ST, nighttime sleep duration, and behavioural problems. The total SDQ and CABS scores were higher in children with ST ≥2 h/day and sleep duration <9.15 h/day (a P < 0.001 for all). After adjusting for potential confounders, children with ST ≥2 h/day had a significantly increased risk of having total difficulties, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, and prosocial problems, as well as behavioural symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Similar results were found in children with sleep duration <9.15 h/day. No significantly increased risk of emotional symptoms was observed for short sleep duration. Preschool children with more ST and short nighttime sleep duration were significantly more likely to have behavioural problems. These results may contribute to a better understanding of prevention and intervention for psychosocial problems in children.


Screen time Sleep duration Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Behavioural problem Preschool children 



The authors are grateful to parents and children who participated in the present study. The authors also thank their partners from maternal and child health care center from 4 research sites. This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81573168, 81373012).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

Approval for the study was obtained from the Ethics Committee of Anhui Medical University. Written informed consents were obtained from all of the participants.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyan Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuman Tao
    • 1
  • Erigene Rutayisire
    • 1
  • Yunxiao Chen
    • 1
  • Kun Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fangbiao Tao
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, School of Public HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiChina
  2. 2.Anhui Provincial Key Laboratory of Population Health and AristogenicsHefeiChina

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