Objective: To determine the television-, DVD-, and video-viewing habits of children younger than 2 years.
Design: A telephone survey of 1009 parents of children aged 2 to 24 months.
Setting: Parents in Minnesota and Washington state were surveyed.
Participants: A random sample of parents of children born in the previous 2 years was drawn from birth certificate records. Households in which English was not spoken were excluded, as were children with major disabilities.
Main outcome measure: The amount of regular television and DVD/video viewing by content, reasons for viewing, and frequency of parent-child coviewing.
Results: By 3 months of age, about 40% of children regularly watched television, DVDs, or videos. By 24 months, this proportion rose to 90%. The median age at which regular media exposure was introduced was 9 months. Among those who watched, the average viewing time per day rose from 1 hour per day for children younger than 12 months to more than 1.5 hours per day by 24 months. Parents watched with their children more than half of the time. Parents gave education, entertainment, and babysitting as major reasons for media exposure in their children younger than 2 years.
Conclusions: Parents should be urged to make educated choices about their children's media exposure. Parental hopes for the educational potential of television can be supported by encouraging those parents who are already allowing screen time to watch with their children.