Nathalie BERTHOMIER, Sylvie OCTOBRE
Advice issued by the French Académie des sciences (2013) as well as the Académies of medicine, science and technology (2019) deems it inadvisable for children under the age of 2 to be exposed to screens, particularly those used passively (television for example). Overexposure to screens contributes to the development of pathologies such as sedentary lifestyles, obesity, etc. The ELFE panel has been following 18,000 children born in 2011, making it possible to build up a national picture of the number and type of screens in each household and the frequency of children’s exposure to them, whether passive or interactive, during the first two,years of their lives.
Screens are generally present in their everyday lives: almost all homes have computers, televisions, mobile phones and internet connections. Attitudes to screens however are sharply divided, as evidenced by the fact that some social groups have taken on educational guidelines more than others: by the age of 2, 9% of children have no screen consumption, whilst 4% of them consume 3 or 4 on a daily basis (television, computer or tablet, smartphone and video games).
The most familiar screen is the television, with 87% of 2-year-olds watching it, 68% of whom do so on a daily basis, averaging 6 hours and 50 minutes of screen time per week. Moreover, it is the screen to which children are exposed the earliest: the majority of children start watching television around 15 months of age. 2-year-old children’s television-viewing habits also vary depending on their parents’ educational background and class, household income, number of siblings and also their parents’ age.