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Keywords:

  • Media;
  • Young child;
  • Television

Abstract

Aim

To establish whether young children watched foreground electronic media or background media that was not aimed at them or was inappropriate for their age.

Methods

We performed a longitudinal analysis of mother–infant dyads participating in a larger parenting study. The primary dependent variable was maternal reports of watching habits from media diaries at 6, 14, 24 and 36 months. Independent variables were child age, programme content and whether the programme was turned on specifically for the child.

Results

We analysed 3570 programme exposures in 527 children, mostly from television. Children were significantly more likely to actually watch programmes if they were older, if the content was coded as ‘educational young child’ or if the parent tuned on the programme specifically so the child could watch it. Children under the age of two were more likely than older children to watch background media that featured age-inappropriate content or had not been turned on for them to watch [30% versus 16% of programmes; AOR = 2.19 (95%CI 1.82–2.65)].

Conclusion

Young children under the age of two frequently watch background media that has age-inappropriate content or has not been turned on for them to watch.