Children’s social communication skills and electronic screen exposure, perinatal, and other risk factors

  • You Yang
  • Zhijuan Jin
  • Shijian Liu
  • Xingming JinEmail author
  • Hong HuangEmail author
  • Shilu Tong
Original Article



To explore if exposure to electronic screen media (ESM) can increase the risk of poor social communication skills in children.

Subjects and methods

Using the stratified, random cluster sampling method, 81,282 children aged 3–12 years from seven districts in Shanghai were investigated in 2014. The children’s social communication skills were measured by the social communication questionnaire (SCQ).


More television viewing time every day was positively associated with the positive SCQ group (p ≤ 0.001). There was a dose–effect relationship between television screen time and its associated odds ratios (ORs). However, weekly time spent online or playing games for 3 h or less was negatively associated with the positive SCQ group (p < 0.05) by a multivariable logistic regression model. Other child and family characteristics were also found to impact SCQ performance.


Significant associations of child and family characteristics with poor SCQ status were revealed in the Chinese children, which may be crucial for early intervention. To assess effects on children’s social development, screen time and multiple patterns of screen use should be considered for future guidelines and policies.


Social communication questionnaire (SCQ) Social communication skills Risk factors Perinatal factors Electronic screen media (ESM) 



We are grateful to all the parents and teachers for their assistance and cooperation in this study. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission (11PH1951202), the Innovation Fund of Pudong New Area Science and Technology Development Fund (PKJ2013-Y63), and the Project of Shanghai Children’s Health Service Capacity Construction (GDEK201708).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Shanghai Children’s Medical CenterShanghai Jiaotong University School of MedicineShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Pediatric Translational Medicine Institute, Shanghai Children’s Medical CenterShanghai Jiaotong University School of MedicineShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Shanghai Pubin Children’s HospitalShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children’s Environmental Health, Xinhua HospitalShanghai Jiaotong University School of MedicineShanghaiChina
  5. 5.Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Shanghai Children’s Medical CenterShanghai Jiaotong University School of MedicineShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.School of Public HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  7. 7.School of Public Health and Social WorkQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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