A Descriptive Epidemiology of Screen-Based Devices by Children and Adolescents: a Scoping Review of 130 Surveillance Studies Since 2000

  • George ThomasEmail author
  • Jason A. Bennie
  • Katrien De Cocker
  • Oscar Castro
  • Stuart J. H. Biddle


Excessive use of screen-based devices can be detrimental for child and adolescent health. While epidemiological reviews have been focusing on traditional screen-based activities (e.g., television, computer use), the availability of newer screen-based devices (e.g., mobile phones, tablets) has increased considerably in recent years. However, there is limited understanding of the descriptive epidemiology of these newer devices and their contribution towards health-related screen time guidelines (≤2 h/day). This systematic scoping review synthesizes the descriptive epidemiology of screen-based devices, incorporating newer forms of screens, among 5–18-year-olds. Medline, Web of Science, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, ERIC, Science Direct, and Scopus databases were searched for articles published in English since year 2000. Search terms included terms that related to screen time and target population. Data were extracted from 130 population-based surveillance studies (minimum sample size N = ≥5000). Screening and data extraction (study characteristics, estimates of prevalence rates and screen time-use point-estimates) were performed in duplicate for accuracy. Television viewing (64.3%) was the most common measure of screen time, whilst fewer reported on newer screen-based devices (mobile phones: 4.6%, active gaming consoles: <1%). On average, 52.3% of participants (k = 19 studies) exceeded 2 h/day of screen time and total screen time was 3.6 h/day (1.3–7.9 h/day). Findings can inform and facilitate future research and policy designed to limit overall screen time among children and adolescents for health gains where appropriate. Moreover, policy makers can use this information to track and monitor screen time among children and adolescents.


Children and adolescents Technology Screen time Mobiles Television Scoping review 



This research did not recieve any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commerical, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Prof Biddle: Funding was received in 2016 for consultancy work for Halpern PR Limited. Member, International Advisory Panel, Get Britain Standing.

Other authors declare no competing interests.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physically Active Lifestyles Research Group (USQ-PALs), Institute for Resilient RegionsUniversity of Southern QueenslandSpringfield CentralAustralia

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