A ban on smartphone usage during recess increased children’s physical activity

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School recess provides a unique opportunity for children to be active. However, many children perceive smartphones as a key barrier for engaging in physical activity during recess. The aim was to investigate if a ban on smartphone usage during recess changed children’s physical activity. During August–October 2020, children from grades 4–7 (10–14 years) at six Danish schools were banned from using their smartphones during recess for a four-week period. Questionnaire and systematic observation (SOPLAY) data were collected from 814 children before intervention (baseline) and 828 during the last week of intervention (follow-up). The mean frequency of physical activity significantly increased from baseline to follow-up (odds ratio = 1.370), as did physical activity on a moderate level (odds ratio = 1.387). Vigorous physical activity significantly decreased (odds ratio = 0.851). The increase in physical activity was found among both schools having outdoor and indoor recess, among both boys and girls, and nearly equally among grades 4–7. This suggests that implementing a ban on smartphone usage during recess would improve the everyday conditions for health among a broad range of schoolchildren. Future studies are needed to further investigate the association between recess physical activity and smartphone usage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1907
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 16. Feb 2021


  • Child health
  • Intervention study
  • Mobile phone
  • Physical activity
  • Policy
  • Questionnaire


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