How parents perceive screen viewing in their 5-6 year old child within the context of their own screen viewing time: a mixed-methods study

Janice Thompson, Simon J Sebire, Joanna M Kesten, Jesmond Zahra, Mark Edwards, Emma Solomon-Moore, Russ Jago

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Few studies have examined parental perceptions of their child’s screen-viewing (SV) within the context of parental SV time. This study qualitatively examined parents’ perceptions of their 5–6-year-old child’s SV within the context of their own quantitatively measured SV. Methods A mixed-methods design employed semi-structured telephone interviews, demographic and SV questionnaires, objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary time. Deductive content analysis was used to explore parents’ perceptions of, and concerns about, their child’s SV, and management of their child’s SV. Comparisons were made between parent-child dyads reporting low (<2-h per day) versus high SV time. Results Fifty-three parents were interviewed (94.3% mothers), with 52 interviews analysed. Fifteen parent-child dyads (28.8%) exceeded the 2-h SV threshold on both weekdays and weekend days; 5 parent-child dyads (9.6%) did not exceed this threshold. The remaining 32 dyads reported a combination of parent or child exceeding/not exceeding the SV threshold on either weekdays or weekend days. Three main themes distinguished the 15 parent-child dyads exceeding the SV threshold from the 5 dyads that did not: 1) parents’ personal SV-related views and behaviours; 2) the family SV environment; and 3) setting SV rules and limits. Parents in the dyads not exceeding the SV threshold prioritized and engaged with their children in non-SV behaviours for relaxation, set limits around their own and their child’s SV-related behaviours, and described an environment supportive of physical activity. Parents in the dyads exceeding the SV threshold were more likely to prioritise SV as a shared family activity, and described a less structured SV environment with minimal rule setting, influenced their child’s need for relaxation time. Conclusions The majority of parents in this study who exceeded the SV threshold expressed minimal concern and a relaxed approach to managing SV for themselves and their child(ren), suggesting a need to raise awareness amongst these parents about the time they spend engaging in SV. Parents may understand their SV-related parenting practices more clearly if they are encouraged to examine their own SV behaviours. Designing interventions aimed to create environments that are less supportive of SV, with more structured approaches to SV parenting strategies are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number471
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Screen-viewing
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Mixed-methods
  • Qualitative


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