Louisiana-promotes-toolkit-for-daycare-centers-to-reduce-screen-time-

Louisiana promotes toolkit for daycare centers to reduce screen time

Children spend an average of seven hours per day using electronic devices including TV, videos, DVDS, computers, tablets, and other handheld devices. Too much screen time can lead to reduced physical activity, thus increasing a child's risk for being overweight or obese. In 2015, Tulane Prevention Research Center faculty co-investigator, Jeanette Gustat, PhD, MPH, partnered with Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Department of Education to begin looking at strategies to reduce screen time for young children.

The partners created a toolkit on screen-time regulations targeted toward early childhood education centers, also called daycare centers. In Louisiana, centers must create policies that prohibit screen time for children under the age of two. For children ages two and older, screen time must be limited to no more than two hours per day.

The toolkit includes Louisiana's policies regarding screen time and use of electronic devices, how to create a screen-free or smart-screen environment, and resources to help early childhood education centers enforce their new policies on screen time. The guide provides instructions for assessing screen time within a center, as well as a rubric to create a facility-specific policy. The toolkit also provides posters, newsletter examples, childcare lesson samples, and parent workshops to aid in implementing the new electronic device regulations.

Gustat's involvement with the toolkit began when she joined the Pediatric Obesity Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN). CoIIN is an obesity prevention and treatment quality improvement multi-state collaborative within Arkansas, California, Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The collaborative began creating components of the early childhood screen-free toolkit when the partners noticed an interest within many daycare centers.

"It's been great working with these partners and this experience has taken me into a new area of work," Gustat said. "We are currently conducting a pilot study to examine how different types of daycare centers are implementing these screen-free policies. We hope to expand this project further to see what more facilities across the state are doing to reduce screen time in order to aide in promoting physical activity and thereby reducing obesity risk."

The screen time toolkit is posted on the Louisiana Department of Education website here and the Louisiana Department of Health website here.

By Caroline Weldon, Tulane PRC Graduate Assistant
February 2017

Topics:   childhood obesity , youth engagement , early childhood health

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