Parent media attitudes and guidance and child media use for a group of preschool children

Spaulding, Carol Jeanne
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

This dissertation provides a review of the literature and three studies related to home media environments and parent characteristics, attitudes, and media guidance for a group of preschool-aged children. The studies used a cross-sectional survey (N = 356) parents conducted at public health district WIC clinics over three weeks during 2008. In the first study, parents reported children’s media use, child and family characteristics, and the home media environment. Child’s age category (β = .495, p=.000) and the location of a TV or game console in the child’s room (β=.68, p = .000) predicted the number of media channels used by the child. The likelihood of activity-promoting media use was highest for two-and three-year-old children. The second study used structural equation modeling to examine child and parent characteristics, parent attitudes and home media density associated with time with media for 237 low-income Hispanic children aged six to 60 months. Results reflected significant relationships among parent media attitudes, home media density, and children’s time with TV, DVDs, and videogames. Parent attitudes and media density mediated children’s time with activity-promoting media. The third study examined the relationships of parent media guidance to media attitudes and children’s age and weight risk status. The study sample (n = 257) included low-income, primarily Hispanic, parents of children aged 12 to 72 months, with surveys matched to children’s weight measurements. Factor analysis and structural equation modeling reflected that parent media guidance was comprised of restrictive and promotive factors. Child age and child weight risk category were associated with promotive guidance, and child weight risk was negatively associated with parents’ health locus of control beliefs. These media use patterns imply that young children will use home screen media that promote physical activity. Interventions geared to reduce young children’s time with media as part of obesity prevention efforts should consider parent attitudes and beliefs concerning media and their children’s health as well as the health-promoting potential of the media children are using.