The time spent by children in front of screens has increased in recent years in France and exceeds health recommendations, underlines Wednesday the first major national study on the subject. Overall, they are higher in families with immigrant origins, or a low level of education of the mother, according to this survey which is part of the Elfe study, carried out by INED ( National Institute for Demographic Studies) and Inserm (National Institute for Health and Medical Research).

The first French longitudinal study on a national scale devoted to the follow-up of children from birth to adulthood, it included more than 18,000 children born in 2011, followed for a period of twenty years. Key Findings: Daily screen time averaged 56 minutes at age 2, 1:20 at age 3.5, and 1:34 at age 5.5.

This is longer than the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends not exposing children under 2 years old to screens, then limiting the time to 1 hour a day between 2 and 5 years old.

Another lesson from the study: children whose mothers were born in the Maghreb, Turkey or sub-Saharan Africa spend on average 30 to 50 minutes (depending on age) more in front of screens than those whose mothers were born in France. . The mother’s level of education also plays a role: children whose mothers have a college education spend 45 minutes (at 2 years old) and 1 hour and 15 minutes (at 5.5 years old) more in front of screens than children whose mothers has a level of education greater than or equal to baccalaureate 5.

Gender has less impact: no difference was observed at 2 years old between boys and girls, but a small difference emerges later (10 minutes longer in boys at 5.5 years old).

The authors acknowledge a few limitations to their study, including the fact that screen time measurements are declarative data. “It is difficult to predict recent changes in use among children under 6,” they write. “Portable screens such as the smartphone and the tablet having developed strongly during the 2010 decade, one could expect an increase in screen time, but this would be to ignore that the prevention messages intended for young children also increased during this period. »