Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 445–453 | Cite as

Media and Young Minds: Comparing State Screen Media Use Regulations for Children Under 24 Months of Age in Early Care and Education to a National Standard

  • Sarah Gonzalez-Nahm
  • Elyse R. Grossman
  • Natasha Frost
  • Carly Babcock
  • Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon
Brief Report


Introduction Excessive screen media use has been associated with a number of negative health outcomes in young children, including increased risk for obesity and comparatively lagging cognitive development. The purpose of this study was to assess state licensing regulations restricting screen media use for children under 24 months old in early care and education (ECE) and to compare regulations to a national standard. Methods We reviewed screen media use regulations for all US states for child care centers (“centers”) and family child care homes (“homes”) and compared these regulations to a national standard discouraging screen media use in children under 24 months of age. We assessed associations between state geographic region and year of last update with the presence of regulations consistent with the standard. In centers, 24 states had regulations limiting screen media use for children under 24 months of age and 19 states had regulations limiting screen media use in homes. Results More states in the South and fewer states in the Midwest had regulations limiting screen media use. The association between geographic region and regulations was not significant for centers (p = 0.06), but was for homes (p = 0.04). The year of last update (within the past 5 years versus older than 5 years) was not associated with regulations for centers (p = 0.18) or homes (p = 0.90). Discussion Many states lacked screen media use regulations for ECE. States should consider adding screen media use restrictions for children under 24 months based on current research data and current recommendations in future regulations updates.


Child care Obesity Policy Regulations Screen time 



This study was supported, in part, by a Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Healthy Eating Research #73391. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the RWJF. This research was also supported by the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The funders had no role in the design of the study, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health, Behavior and SocietyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Public Health Law CenterMitchell Hamline School of LawSt PaulUSA

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