Maternal Characteristics Associated with Television Viewing Habits of Low-Income Preschool Children

Abstract

Few studies have examined maternal characteristics associated with heavy or inappropriate television viewing on the part of their children. We investigated the relationship between children’s television viewing habits and maternal depressive symptoms and parenting beliefs. The participants were 175 low income children (mean age = 62.1 months) and their mothers who participated in a larger national study of Early Head Start eligible children. Our sample included families from two predominantly rural sites. Mothers completed a survey about the amount of time their children spend watching television during the week and on the weekend, and the types of programs they watch, as well as questionnaires related to maternal depression and parenting attitudes. According to mothers’ report, most of the young children in our sample exceeded the total viewing time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (maximum 2 h per day), and the majority watched at least some programming designed for adult audiences. Maternal depressive symptoms and beliefs about parenting were associated with heavier viewing on the part of the child, as well as with viewing of age-inappropriate content.

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Acknowledgments

The findings reported here are based on research conducted as part of the national Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through Grant 90YF0008 to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The research is part of the independent research the UAMS conducted with Child Development, Inc. and Northwest Tennessee Head Start/Early Head Start, 2 of the 17 programs participating in the national Early Head Start study. The authors are members of the Early Head Start Research Consortium. The Consortium consists of representatives from 17 programs participating in the evaluation, 15 local research teams, the evaluation contractors, and ACF.

The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Correspondence to Nicola A. Conners.

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Conners, N.A., Tripathi, S.P., Clubb, R. et al. Maternal Characteristics Associated with Television Viewing Habits of Low-Income Preschool Children. J Child Fam Stud 16, 415–425 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-006-9095-0

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Keywords

  • Television
  • Depression
  • Parenting
  • Child