Publication Details

Kemp, B. J., Parrish, A. & Cliff, D. P. (2020). 'Social screens' and 'the mainstream': longitudinal competitors of non-organized physical activity in the transition from childhood to adolescence. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 17 (5), 1-11.


BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) tends to decline during late childhood and adolescence. In Australia, this decline has been shown to occur particularly in non-organized PA (e.g. active play and informal sport). Using a social marketing approach, segments of youth may be identified and targeted based on their profile of alternative activities that compete with non-organized PA during the transition to adolescence. The objectives of this study were to identify and describe segments of youth whose participation in non-organized PA declined between 11 and 13 years, based on changes in other potential competing activities during this period. METHODS: Data were sourced from Waves 4 and 5 of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Participation in non-organized PA and thirteen alternative activities (e.g. video games, homework, sleep) were measured using 24-h time-use diaries. Analyses were limited to participants whose non-organized PA had declined between 11 and 13 years (n = 1043). Two-stage cluster analysis was conducted and segments were described using chi-square and t-tests. RESULTS: Among the analytic sample, average non-organized PA participation declined by 87 min/day between 11y and 13y (p < 0.001). Two segments were identified (κ = 0.66). The 'Social Screens' segment (n = 143) had large increases in texting, emailing and social media use (+ 56 min/day, p < 0.001) and other internet use (+ 32 min/day, p < 0.001). Conversely, 'the Mainstream' segment (n = 900) had smaller increases in a wider range of activities, including other PA (organized PA, active transport, active chores/work) (+ 16.0 min/day, p < 0.001), homework/study (+ 9.5 min/day, p < 0.001) and electronic gaming (+ 6.7 min/day, p < 0.05). 'Social Screens' were more likely to attend public school, live in urban areas and have more advanced pubertal development (girls only). 'The Mainstream' were more likely to participate in PA and out-of-school activities. CONCLUSIONS: The 'Social Screens' segment had a much larger increase in texting, emailing, social media and other internet use, and lower participation in overall PA and out-of-school activities, compared with 'the Mainstream'. Future research may trial PA promotion strategies to replace benefits that this segment may seek in competing activities (e.g. social PA apps).



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