Patterns of Screen Time Among Rural Mexican-American Children on the New Mexico-Mexico Border
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Patterns of Screen Time Among Rural Mexican-American Children on the New Mexico-Mexico Border

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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Introduction The prevalence of obesity is 26% among Hispanic children and teenagers and 47% among Hispanic adults. One contributor to obesity is sedentary behavior, such as using electronic screen devices (ie, screens). Low-income and Hispanic youths spend more time using such devices than other youths. Methods We interviewed 202 parents of Mexican-origin children aged 6 to 10 years in 2 rural communities near the US–Mexico border to determine screen use among children. We tested for associations between covariates and heavy screen use (≥4 hours/day) and calculated adjusted odds ratios (AORs) to identify independent, modifiable risk factors for such use. Results More than two-thirds (68.3%) of households had an annual income of less than $24,000, 89.1% spoke primarily Spanish, and 92.1% had internet access. The percentage of children with heavy screen use was 14.9% on weekdays and 25.2% on weekends. Smartphones were used by 62.4% of children, desktops or laptops by 60.9%; homework was the most common reason for use of these devices. One in 3 children used them for social media. Increased odds of heavy screen use were associated with having a television on while the child ate (weekday AOR = 3.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08–8.45 and weekend AOR = 2.38; 95% CI, 1.04–5.40) and using electronics to entertain (weekend AOR = 2.94; 95% CI, 1.15–7.51). More than 3 family meals per week (AOR = 0.40; 95% CI, 0.17–0.94 compared with ≤3 meals) and 2 or 3 family activities per week (AOR = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.12–0.87 compared with ≤1 activity) were associated with decreased odds of heavy weekend use. Conclusion Even in low-income, Spanish-speaking communities, children have access to electronic devices, social media, and the internet, and a substantial fraction of them are heavy users. Efforts to reduce screen time might focus on understanding and changing the social norms that promote it.
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