Are parental concerns for child TV viewing associated with child TV viewing and the home sedentary environment?
1 School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK
2 School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria, 3125, Australia
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:102 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-102Published: 27 September 2011
Time spent watching television affects multiple aspects of child and adolescent health. Although a diverse range of factors have been found to be associated with young people's television viewing, parents and the home environment are particularly influential. However, little is known about whether parents, particularly those who are concerned about their child's television viewing habits, translate their concern into action by providing supportive home environments (e.g. rules restricting screen-time behaviours, limited access to screen-based media). The aim of this study was to examine associations between parental concerns for child television viewing and child television viewing and the home sedentary environment.
Parents of children aged 5-6 years ('younger' children, n = 430) and 10-12 years ('older children', n = 640) reported usual duration of their child's television (TV) viewing, their concerns regarding the amount of time their child spends watching TV, and on aspects of the home environment. Regression analyses examined associations between parental concern and child TV viewing, and between parental concern and aspects of the home environment. Analyses were stratified by age group.
Children of concerned parents watched more TV than those whose parents were not concerned (B = 9.63, 95% CI = 1.58-17.68, p = 0.02 and B = 15.82, 95% CI = 8.85-22.80, p < 0.01, for younger and older children respectively). Parental concern was positively associated with younger children eating dinner in front of the television, and with parental restriction of sedentary behaviours and offering sedentary activities (i.e. TV viewing or computer use) as a reward for good behaviour among older and young children. Furthermore, parents of older children who were concerned had fewer televisions in the home and a lower count of sedentary equipment in the home.
Children of concerned parents watched more TV than those whose parents who were not concerned. Parents appear to recognise excessive television viewing in their children and these parents appear to engage in conflicting parental approaches despite these concerns. Interventions targeting concerned parents may be an innovative way of reaching children most in need of strategies to reduce their television viewing and harnessing this parental concern may offer considerable opportunity to change the family and home environment.