Objective: The goal was to quantify television viewing in day care settings and to investigate the characteristics of programs that predict viewing.
Methods: A telephone survey of licensed child care programs in Michigan, Washington, Florida, and Massachusetts was performed. The frequency and quantity of television viewing for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children were assessed.
Results: With the exception of infants, children in home-based child care programs were exposed to significantly more television on an average day than were children in center-based programs (infants: 0.2 vs 0 hours; toddlers: 1.6 vs 0.1 hours; preschool-aged children: 2.4 vs 0.4 hours). In a regression analysis of daily television time for preschool-aged children in child care, center-based programs were found to have an average of 1.84 fewer hours of television each day, controlling for the other covariates. Significant effect modification was found, in that the impact of home-based versus center-based child care programs differed somewhat depending on educational levels for staff members; having a 2- or 4-year college degree was associated with 1.41 fewer hours of television per day in home-based programs, but no impact of staff education on television use was observed in center-based programs.
Conclusions: For many children, previous estimates of screen time significantly underestimated actual amounts. Pediatricians should council parents to minimize screen time in child care settings.