Associations between Parental and Child Screen Time and Quality of the Home Environment: A Preliminary Investigation

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 27;17(17):6207. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176207.


(1) Background: The recommendation for screen use among preschool-aged children is ≤ 1 h per day. We aimed to assess the relationship between parental and child screen use and home environment characteristics. (2) Methods: Thirty-six 3-to-4-year-old healthy children were recruited. Parents reported their own and their child's weekday and weekend daytime screen use. The child's home environment and parent-child interactions were assessed using the Infant-Toddler Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (IT-HOME). Analyses were run to identify relationships between parental and child screen use and the six subscales of the IT-HOME: Responsivity, Acceptance, Organization, Learning Materials, Involvement and Variety. (3) Results: Parents' weekend screen use was correlated to parental responsivity and variety of people and events at home. These relationships remained significant after adjusting for maternal education and number of children at home (Responsivity β = 7.30 (95% CI: 1.75, 12.86), p = 0.012) and (Variety β = -2.45, (95% CI: -4.58, -0.31), p = 0.026). There was a trend level association between low child's weekend screen use and high presence of learning materials. Other aspects of screen time were not associated with home environment characteristics. (4) Conclusions: Higher parental screen use predicted lower variety and greater parental responsivity, the latter of which was an unexpected finding. Administering the IT-HOME alongside a screen use questionnaire may offer the opportunity for a more comprehensive representation of home environments in today's society. Future research can also clarify facets of parental screen use (e.g., co-viewing, timing) that are more vs. less likely to impact children.

Keywords: IT-HOME; home environment; parent-child interaction; screen media; screen use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Screen Time*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television