Television Viewing by Young Hispanic Children

This article examines television viewing patterns in very young children from Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Hispanic households. Television exposure by children has been linked to several negative health outcomes, including obesity and sleep and attention problems. Very little is known about television viewing by very young Hispanic children.

The authors used data from the 2000 National Survey of Early Childhood Health to conduct a cross-sectional analysis of 695 White mothers, 278 English-speaking Hispanic mothers, and 359 Spanish-speaking Hispanic mothers. Television viewing habits of children were analyzed by age group (4-11 months, 12-23 months, and 24-35 months), ethnicity and maternal language.

Key Findings:

  • There were no significant differences in television viewing between White and Hispanic children overall. However, variations in viewing emerged when age and maternal language were taken into account.
  • Hispanic children in households that spoke English watched more television on average (1.88 hours a day) than Hispanic children in households that spoke Spanish (1.31 hours a day). This difference was stratified by age: children younger than one year had no difference in television viewing, but by age two children with Spanish-speaking mothers watched fewer hours of TV on average.
  • Among 1-year-old children, children of English-speaking Hispanic mothers watched more television on average than White children, but by age two the two groups were not significantly different.

Television viewing habits of very young Hispanic children vary by age and maternal language. Efforts to alter viewing habits should take into account the heterogeneous nature of the Hispanic population in the United States.