Family Socioeconomic Status Moderates Associations Between Television Viewing and School Readiness Skills

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Abstract

Objective:

We examined whether the negative relation between television viewing that exceeds the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and school readiness varied by family income.

Methods:

Data were collected from 807 children from diverse backgrounds. Parents reported hours of television viewing, as well as family income. Children were assessed using measures of math, knowledge of letters and words, and executive function (EF).

Results:

Television viewing was negatively associated with math and EF but not with letter and word knowledge. An interaction between television viewing and family income indicated that the effect of television viewing in excess of the AAP recommended maximum had negative associations with math and EF that increased as a linear function of family income. Furthermore, EF partially mediated the relation between television viewing and math.

Conclusion:

Television viewing is negatively associated with children's school readiness skills, and this association increased as family income decreased. Active efforts to reinforce AAP guidelines to limit the amount of television children watch should be made, especially for children from middle- to lower-income families.

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