Objective: To conduct a population-based survey of television and other media usage in young children to determine (1) total media usage; (2) the proportion of children who have televisions in their bedrooms and who eat breakfast or dinner in front of the television; and (3) predictors of parental concern about the amount of television their child watches.
Study design: Telephone survey administered to 1454 parents of children <11 years old derived from a diverse clinic population.
Results: The mean age of the index child was 5.05 years. Mean daily reported child media use was as follows: television (1.45 hours; SD, 1.5); videos (1.1 hours; SD, 1.30); and computer games (0.54 hours; SD, 0.96). Thirty percent of parents reported that their child ate breakfast or dinner in front of the television in the past week, and 22% were concerned about the amount of television that their child watched. In multivariate linear regression, eating breakfast or dinner in front of the television in the past week was associated with increased hours of television viewing (0.38 hours [0.21, 0.54]) and video (0.19 hours [0.04, 0.34]). Having a television in a child's bedroom was associated with increased hours of television (0.25 hours [0.07, 0.43]), video viewing (0.31 hours [0.16, 0.47]), and computer games (0.21 hours [0.10, 0.32]). In general, higher parental education was associated with decreased hours of television and video but not computer games. Older children were 2 to 3 times more likely than younger children to have a television in their bedroom and to have eaten a meal in front of it in the past week. More educated parents were less likely to report that their child had a television in their bedroom and more likely to be concerned about the amount of television their child viewed.
Conclusions: Combined video and computer game usage exceeded television usage. Both children of low- and high-income parents are at risk for certain behaviors associated with television usage. Parents whose children watched more television were more likely to be concerned about the amount of television their child viewed.