Physical activity and sedentary behavior across three time-points and associations with social skills in early childhood




Carson, Valerie
Lee, Eun-Young
Hesketh, Kylie D.
Hunter, Stephen
Kuzik, Nicholas
Predy, Madison
Rhodes, Ryan E.
Rinaldi, Christina M.
Spence, John C.
Hinkley, Trina

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BMC Public Health


Background The growth and development that occurs in early childhood has long-term implications, therefore understanding the relevant determinants is needed to inform early prevention and intervention. The objectives of the study were to examine: 1) the longitudinal associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with social skills and 2) how physical activity and sedentary behavior track over three time-points. Methods Participants were from the Parents’ Role in Establishing healthy Physical activity and Sedentary behavior habits (PREPS) project. A total of 251 eligible toddlers and their parents participated at baseline in 2014/15 (time 1; 1.6 ± 0.2 years) and a sub-sample participated at 1-year (time 2; n = 79; 2.7 ± 0.3 years) and 2-year (time 3; n = 77; 3.7 ± 0.4 years) follow-ups. Sedentary time (≤25 counts/15 s), light-intensity physical activity (LPA; 26–419 counts/15 s), and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA; ≥420/15 s) were objectively measured with wGT3X-BT ActiGraph accelerometers, and standardized for wear time. Parents reported their children’s screen time (television/video, video/computer games) at all three time-points. Parents also reported on children’s social skills using the Adaptive Social Behavior Inventory (ASBI) at time-points 2 and 3, and comply (e.g., cooperates; 10 items), express (e.g., joins play; 13 items), and disrupt (e.g., teases; 7 items) subscales were created by summing items. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were conducted to address objective one. Tracking coefficients (low: β1 < 0.30; moderate: β1 = 0.30–0.59; moderate-high: β1 = 0.60-0.90; high: β1 > 0.9) were conducted using GEE to address objective two. Results Across the study, screen time was negatively associated with express (b = − 0.068, 95%CI: -0.114, − 0.023) and comply (b = − 0.056; 95%CI: -0.094, − 0.018) scores and positively associated with disrupt scores (b = 0.004; 95% CI: 0.001, 0.006). Findings were similar for television/videos but less consistent for video/computer games. No associations were observed for physical activity. Screen time significantly tracked at moderate-high levels (β1 = 0.63; 95% CI: 0.45, 0.81), while all other behaviors tracked at moderate levels (β1 = 0.35–0.49; p < 0.01) over the three time-points. Conclusions Screen time was unfavorably associated with social skills across early childhood. Furthermore, all behaviors tracked at moderate to moderate-high levels from toddler to preschool ages. Therefore, promoting healthy physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns early in life, especially for screen time, may be important.



Toddlers, Physical activity, Sedentary behavior, Social skills, Accelerometer


Carson, V., Lee, E., Hesketh, K. D., Hunter, S., Kuzik, N., Predy, M., … Hinkley, T. (2019). Physical activity and sedentary behavior across three time-points and associations with social skills in early childhood. BMC Public Health, 19(1).