Adverse Childhood Experiences and Problematic Media Use: Perceptions of Caregivers of High-Risk Youth

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 22;18(13):6725. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18136725.


Youth with a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more likely to develop risky health behaviors. With the increase of media use in the general population, it is likely that these high-risk youth are developing maladaptive behaviors associated with media use (i.e., problematic media use). The goals of this article are (1) to describe symptoms of problematic media use in high-risk youth and (2) to determine whether ACEs are related to problematic media use in this population. Data were collected through online questionnaires from 348 parents or legal guardians of children ages 5 to 18 years, the majority of whom had been adopted. Parents and guardians reported on the child's history of ACEs and completed the Problematic Media Use Measure-Short Form (PMUM-SF). Almost half of the participants reported that their child had a history of four or more ACEs (48.9%). Caregivers of foster or adopted children reported more symptoms of problematic media use than those reporting on their biological children. After adjusting for covariates, the number of ACEs predicted problematic media use above and beyond variance explained by demographic factors or screen time amount. Children with a history of ACEs had higher problematic media use compared to children without ACEs.

Keywords: adverse childhood experiences; high-risk youth; problematic media use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Child, Adopted*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires