Objective: To determine whether electronic media exposure is associated with decreased parental reading and teaching activities in the homes of preschool children.
Methods: A convenience sample presenting for well-child care to an urban hospital pediatric clinic was enrolled. Inclusion criteria were: child's age 3 to 5 years and not yet in kindergarten. Electronic media exposure (TV, movies/video, computer/video games) was assessed with a 24-hour recall diary and characterized on the basis of industry ratings. Reading aloud and teaching activities were assessed with the StimQ-Preschool READ and PIDA (Parental Involvement in Developmental Advance) subscales, respectively.
Results: A total of 77 families were assessed. Children were exposed to a mean (SD) of 200.8 (128.9) minutes per day of media, including 78.2 (63.7) minutes of educational young child-oriented, 62.0 (65.6) minutes of noneducational young child-oriented, 14.8 (41.4) minutes of school age/teen-oriented, and 29.2 (56.6) minutes of adult-oriented media, as well as to 16.6 (47.5) minutes of media of unknown type. A total of 79.2% watched 2 or more hours per day. Noneducational young child-oriented exposure was associated with fewer reading (semipartial correlation coefficient [SR] = -0.24, P = .02) and teaching (SR = -0.27, P = .01) activities; similar relationships were not found for other media categories. Children exposed to 2 or more hours of total electronic media per day had 1.6 (95% confidence interval, 0.4-2.9) fewer days per week of reading than children exposed to less than 2 hours (SR = -0.27, P = .01).
Conclusions: This study found an association between increased exposure to noneducational young child-oriented media and decreased teaching and reading activities in the home. This association represents a mechanism by which media exposure could adversely affect development.