Bedroom Media: One Risk Factor for Development

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Abstract

Mass media have numerous effects on children, ranging from influencing school performance to increased or reduced aggression. What we do not know, however, is how media availability in the bedroom moderates these effects. Although several researchers have suggested that bedroom media may influence outcomes by displacing other activities (the displacement hypothesis) or by changing the content of media consumed (the content hypothesis), these have rarely been tested directly. This study tested both hypotheses using several outcomes that are associated with bedroom media and some of the underlying mediating mechanisms. The hypotheses were tested using 3 longitudinal samples of varying methods, age, duration, and country. The results indicate that children who have bedroom media are likely to watch larger amounts of screen time which displaced important activities, such as reading and sleeping, which mediated later negative outcomes such as poor school performance. Bedroom media also influence risk for obesity and video game addiction. Children with bedroom media are also likely to be exposed to more media violence. The violent content increased normative beliefs about aggression, which increased physical aggression, providing support for the content hypothesis. This study demonstrates that media can have effects not just from what they show, but also because of what children are not exposed to. Bedroom media are therefore a robust risk factor for several aspects of child development.

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