Infant television and video exposure associated with limited parent-child verbal interactions in low socioeconomic status households

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 May;162(5):411-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.5.411.


Objective: To assess verbal interactions related to television and other electronic media exposure among mothers and 6 month-old-infants.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of 154 mother-infant dyads participating in a long-term study related to early child development.

Setting: Urban public hospital.

Participants: Low socioeconomic status mothers of 6-month-old infants. Main Exposure Media exposure and content.

Main outcome measures: Mother-infant verbal interaction associated with media exposure and maternal coviewing.

Results: Of 154 low socioeconomic status mothers, 149 (96.8%) reported daily media exposure in their infants, with median exposure of 120 (interquartile range, 60-210) minutes in a 24-hour period. Among 426 program exposures, mother-infant interactions were reported during 101 (23.7%). Interactions were reported most frequently with educational young child-oriented media (42.8% of programs), compared with 21.3% of noneducational young child-oriented programs (adjusted odds ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.98) and 14.7% of school-age/teenage/adult-oriented programs (adjusted odds ratio, 0.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.3). Among coviewed programs with educational content, mothers reported interactions during 62.7% of exposures. Coviewing was not reported more frequently for educational young child-oriented programs.

Conclusions: We found limited verbal interactions during television exposure in infancy, with interactions reported for less than one-quarter of exposures. Although interactions were most commonly reported among programs with educational content that had been coviewed, programs with educational content were not more likely to be coviewed than were other programs. Our findings do not support development of infant-directed educational programming in the absence of strategies to increase coviewing and interactions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Social Class
  • Television*
  • Verbal Behavior*
  • Videotape Recording