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Screen-Free Time with Friends

For many children, free time equals screen time. This has become particularly obvious since the introduction of smartphones and tablets and the availability of online video gaming that have changed children’s screen time habits and the way they entertain themselves and communicate with friends and family. Although there are many expected benefits of children’s use of today’s screen media, there are also many possible hazards, e.g. displacement of unstructured physical activity (PA) and less free time spent with friends. In a Danish context, free time in middle childhood are increasingly spent alone. Children are more likely to engage in PA together with friends or peers, and spending more time with friends in leisure time (i.e. playdates) could be an effective means to promote children’s engagement in unstructured PA. The after-school time and weekend are important periods for increasing children’s PA because children are more inactive during leisure.



The overall aim of this project is to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an extracurricular school-based intervention program to limit recreational screen media use and to promote more time with friends after school and during weekends on habitual PA. We expect that limiting children’s screen media use and increasing time spent with friends during leisure in combination are synergistic, rather than simply complementary, and will be a novel approach to increase habitual PA in middle childhood.



The intervention will be developed using Intervention Mapping and Behaviour Change Wheel, both systematic tools previously used in designing interventions. During the development a series of interviews will conducted with children, parents and schoolteachers/school pedagogues/school leaders so aid the understanding of e.g. the barriers parents experience implementing changes in the screen media habits at home. The pilot phase will among other things examine the acceptance of the intervention.


Project period



Collaboration and funding

The project is financed by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is a cooperation between Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics (University of Southern Denmark), Steno Diabetes Centre Odense and The National Institute of Public Health (University of Southern Denmark).



There are two Ph.D.-projects. One examines the development phase and the other examines the pilot phase.


Last Updated 19.10.2023