Children’s Environmental Health in the Digital Era: Understanding Early Screen Exposure as a Preventable Risk Factor for Obesity and Sleep Disorders (2018)

Children (Basel). 2018 Feb 23;5(2). pii: E31. doi: 10.3390/children5020031.

Wolf C1, Wolf S2, Weiss M3, Nino G4.


The quantity, accessibility and focus on child-targeted programming has exponentially increased since it entered American households in the early 1900s. It may have started with the television (TV), but technology has evolved and now fits in our pockets; as of 2017, 95% of American families own a smartphone. Availability and child-tailored content has subsequently led to a decrease in the age at initial screen exposure. The negative effects that accompany the current culture of early screen exposure are extensive and need to be considered as technology continues to enter the home and inundate social interactions. Increased levels of early screen exposure have been associated with decreased cognitive abilities, decreased growth, addictive behavior, poor school performance, poor sleep patterns, and increased levels of obesity. Research on the adverse effects of early screen exposure is mounting, but further epidemiological studies are still needed to inform prevention and regulation policies.

KEYWORDS: BMI; addiction; cognitive deficit; development; obesity; pediatric; screen exposure; sleep; technology

PMID: 29473855

PMCID: PMC5836000

DOI: 10.3390/children5020031