Parental Media Mediation Styles for Children Aged 2 to 11 Years

A number of negative health consequences in children have been associated with overexposure to media. The goal of this research was to better understand parental approaches to influencing children's use of media (television, video and computer). An office-based survey was administered to parents to collect data on demographics, reported media behaviors, parental awareness about media effects, television in the bedroom and parental concern. A study sample of 1,831 children between the ages of 2 and 11 years old was drawn from children presenting for well-child office visits in participating American Academy of Pediatrics clinics in the U.S., Ontario and Puerto Rico. Restrictive, instructive and unlimited parental mediation approaches were studied in relation to the outcomes of interest.

Key Findings:

  • Forty-one percent of parents reported using a single mediation approach and 59 percent reported the use of multiple strategies.
  • Of those parents reporting a single approach, 23 percent were restrictive, 11 percent were instructive and 7 percent were unlimited.
  • There was an association between restrictive and instructive approaches and greater awareness of negative effects of high media use. Restrictive mediation was also associated with increased parental concern and having two adults in the home.
  • The unlimited mediation approach was associated with a lower awareness of the negative effects of high media use. This approach was also more common when parents permitted a television in the child's bedroom and were Latino or African American.

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