Household chaos and screen media use among preschool-aged children: A cross-sectional study 11 Medical and Health Sciences 1117 Public Health and Health Services

Jennifer A. Emond, Lucy K. Tantum, Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Sunny Jung Kim, Reina K. Lansigan, Sara Benjamin Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Excess screen media use is a robust predictor of childhood obesity. Understanding how household factors may affect children's screen use is needed to tailor effective intervention efforts. The preschool years are a critical time for obesity prevention, and while it is likely that greater household disorder influences preschool-aged children's screen use, data on that relationship are absent. In this study, our goal was to quantify the relationships between household chaos and screen use in preschool-aged children. Methods: A cross-sectional, online survey was administered to 385 parents of 2-5 year-olds recruited in 2017. Household chaos was measured with the Confusion, Hubbub and Order Scale (i.e., the chaos scale), a validated, parent-reported scale. The scale consists of 15 items, each scored on a 4-point Likert scale. Final scores were the sum across the 15 items and modeled as quartiles for analyses. Parents reported their children's screen use for nine electronic media activities. Adjusted linear and Poisson regression were used to model associations between household chaos and children's total weekly screen use, screen use within one hour of bedtime and screen use in the bedroom. Results: Children averaged 31.0 (SD = 23.8) hours per week with screens, 49.6% used screens within one hour of bedtime and 41.0% used screens in their bedrooms. In adjusted regression models, greater household chaos was positively associated with weekly screen use (P = 0.03) and use of screens within one hour of bedtime (P < 0.01) in a dose-dependent manner. Children in the fourth versus the first quartile of household chaos were more likely to use screens in their bedroom (P = 0.03). Conclusions: Greater household chaos was associated with increased total screen use as well as screen use behaviors that are related to disrupted nighttime sleep. Findings suggest that household chaos may be an obesity risk factor during the preschool years because of such effects on screen use, and highlight the need to consider household chaos when implementing home-based obesity prevention programs for young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1210
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 29 2018


  • Childhood obesity
  • Household chaos
  • Preschoolers
  • Screen media use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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