Family and home correlates of television viewing in 12-13 year old adolescents: the Nepean Study

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2006 Sep 10;3:24. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-3-24.


Background: Few young people meet television viewing guidelines.

Purpose: To determine the association between factors in the family and home environment and watching television, including videos and DVDs, in early adolescence.

Methods: Cross-sectional, self-report survey of 343 adolescents aged 12-13 years (173 girls), and their parents (338 mothers, 293 fathers). Main measures were factors in the family and home environment potentially associated with adolescents spending >or= 2 hours per day in front of the television. Factors examined included family structure, opportunities to watch television/video/DVDs, perceptions of rules and regulations on television viewing, and television viewing practices.

Results: Two-thirds of adolescents watched >or= 2 hours television per day. Factors in the family and home environment associated with adolescents watching television >or= 2 hours per day include adolescents who have siblings (Adjusted Odds Ratio [95%CI] AOR = 3.0 [1.2, 7.8]); access to pay television (AOR = 2.0 [1.1, 3.7]); ate snacks while watching television (AOR = 3.1 [1.8, 5.4]); co-viewed television with parents (AOR = 2.3 [1.3, 4.2]); and had mothers who watched >or= 2 hours television per day (AOR = 2.4 [1.3, 4.6]).

Conclusion: There are factors in the family and home environment that influence the volume of television viewed by 12-13 year olds. Television plays a central role in the family environment, potentially providing a means of recreation among families of young adolescents for little cost. Interventions which target family television viewing practices and those of parents, in particular, are more likely to be effective than interventions which directly target adolescent viewing times.