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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity

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Strategy. Screen Time Interventions

Approach. Provide educational support and encouragement to children to decrease time on TV and other stationary screen media.

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Overview.¬†¬†Initial research indicates that screen time interventions to encourage children to spend time away from screens (TV, computer games, video games) as well as teaching self-management to help behavior change through monitoring, classroom education, and family or peer support may be effective in decreasing sedentary behavior, though further research is needed. Screen time interventions are home-based and also can include physical activity or healthy diet components. 

Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for screen time interventions decreasing sedentary time and increasing physical activity, however further research is needed to confirm effects. This strategy has been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).

Target Audience. Children/adolescents.

Outcome.¬† Decreased sedentary/screen time, increased physical activity. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Provide educational support and encouragement to children to decrease time on TV and other stationary screen media,” here are sample ESMs you can use to model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of children/adolescents who receive self-management behavior education targeted at reducing screen time.
  • Number of schools participating in education efforts related to screen time, physical activity, and healthy eating.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of children/adolescents who receive self-management behavior education targeted at reducing screen time.
  • Percent of schools participating in education efforts related to screen time, physical activity, and healthy eating.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of children/adolescents who decrease sedentary time due to screen time interventions.
  • Number of children/adolescents who report an increase in physical activity due to screen time interventions.
  • Number of children/adolescents who report positive behavioral change related to self-regulation of screen time.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of children/adolescents who reported a decrease in screen-time and sedentary time.
  • Percent of children/adolescents who meet the 60 minutes/day of physical activity due to screen time interventions.
  • Percent of children/adolescents that maintain healthy behavior changes post-intervention.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


 

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.