Television and families: what do young children watch with their parents?

Child Dev. 1991 Dec;62(6):1409-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1991.tb01614.x.


A sample of 271 3- and 5-year-olds and their families participated in a 2-year longitudinal study of television viewing patterns. 5 1-week diaries for all family members were collected at 6-month intervals. Programs were categorized as: (1) child informative, (2) child entertainment, (3) news and informative, (4) sports, (5) comedy, (6) drama, (7) action-adventure, and (8) variety-game. The majority of child programs were viewed without parents, while the majority of adult programs were watched with parents. Coviewing patterns of adult programs were predicted from parents' individual viewing habits, but not from the child's. Coviewing declined with age. Parental encouragement and regulation of viewing were orthogonal. Children whose parents encouraged viewing watched more child informative programming; children of restrictive parents watched less entertainment programming. Encouraging parents coviewed more than nonencouraging parents. Results support the assertion that parental viewing preferences, habits, and orientations toward television influence children's viewing, both with and without parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Environment
  • Socialization*
  • Television*