Article Text

  1. R. Connelly,
  2. T. D. Rice
  1. Academic General Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX


Background The AAP advises no television (TV) for children less than 2 years. There is little evidence on infants' TV viewing or parental limits on TV exposure. Research on minority populations is warranted.

Objectives (1) Describe TV viewing habits of Hispanic and non-Hispanic children 1 year of age and younger; (2) describe parental limits on their child's TV exposure.

Methods Cross-sectional study of children ages 7 to 13 months in a hospital-based pediatric continuity clinic. Parents were interviewed and asked to report their child's TV viewing habits, favorite TV shows, and their own limits on TV exposure. Comparisons were made between Hispanic and non-Hispanic children.

Results A total of 252 children participated; mean age 10.3 months; 52% male; 47% Hispanic. In general, 63% of children watched TV daily; mean hours 1.1 per day. There were no differences between groups in regard to frequency or number of hours watched. Only 35% of parents reported TV watching as one of the child's leisure activities; of these, 37% were parents of Hispanic children compared to 63% of non-Hispanic children (p = .03). Educational shows were listed as the child's favorite by 42% of parents, with no significant differences between groups. Overall, only 37% of parents limited the amount of TV, while 66% of parents limited the type of shows their infant could watch. There were no differences between ethnic groups for parental limits on TV exposure.

Conclusions Despite the AAP recommendations, young children watched television daily. Educational shows intended for children were the most frequently watched in this age group. While Hispanic parents are less likely to report TV watching as one of their child's leisure activities, ethnicity did not determine the amount of TV watched or parental limits on TV exposure.

Implications Pediatric health care professionals need to warn parents of potential negative effects of TV on children; parents should be encouraged to set limits on television exposure starting early in infancy.

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