Associations Between Parenting, Media Use, Cumulative Risk, and Children's Executive Functioning

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Abstract

Objective:

This study was designed to examine how parenting style, media exposure, and cumulative risk were associated with executive functioning (EF) during early childhood.

Methods:

A nationally representative group of US parents/caregivers (N = 1156) with 1 child between 2 and 8 years participated in a telephone survey. Parents were asked to report on their child's exposure to television, music, and book reading through a 24-hour time diary. Parents also reported a host of demographic and parenting variables as well as questions on their child's EF.

Results:

Separate multiple regressions for preschool (2–5 years) and school-aged (6–8 years) children grouped by cumulative risk were conducted. Parenting style moderated the risks of exposure to background television on EF for high-risk preschool-age children. Educational TV exposure served as a buffer for high-risk school-aged children. Cumulative risk, age, and parenting quality interacted with a number of the exposure effects.

Conclusions:

The study showed a complex pattern of associations between cumulative risk, parenting, and media exposure with EF during early childhood. Consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics, these findings support the recommendation that background television should be turned off when a child is in the room and suggest that exposure to high-quality content across multiple media platforms may be beneficial.

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