BMJ Open 3:e002593 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002593
  • Public health
    • Research

Parental modelling, media equipment and screen-viewing among young children: cross-sectional study

  1. Kenneth R Fox1
  1. 1Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Centre for Research in Health and Social Care, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. 3School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Russell Jago; russ.jago{at}
  • Received 15 January 2013
  • Revised 4 March 2013
  • Accepted 12 March 2013
  • Published 24 April 2013


Objective To examine whether parental screen-viewing, parental attitudes or access to media equipment were associated with the screen-viewing of 6-year-old to 8-year-old children.

Design Cross-sectional survey.

Setting Online survey.

Main outcome Parental report of the number of hours per weekday that they and, separately, their 6-year-old to 8-year-old child spent watching TV, using a games console, a smart-phone and multiscreen viewing. Parental screen-viewing, parental attitudes and pieces of media equipment were exposures.

Results Over 75% of the parents and 62% of the children spent more than 2 h/weekday watching TV. Over two-thirds of the parents and almost 40% of the children spent more than an hour per day multiscreen viewing. The mean number of pieces of media equipment in the home was 5.9 items, with 1.3 items in the child's bedroom. Children who had parents who spent more than 2 h/day watching TV were over 7.8 times more likely to exceed the 2 h threshold. Girls and boys who had a parent who spent an hour or more multiscreen viewing were 34 times more likely to also spend more than an hour per day multiscreen viewing. Media equipment in the child's bedroom was associated with higher TV viewing, computer time and multiscreen viewing. Each increment in the parental agreement that watching TV was relaxing for their child was associated with a 49% increase in the likelihood that the child spent more than 2 h/day watching TV.

Conclusions Children who have parents who engage in high levels of screen-viewing are more likely to engage in high levels of screen-viewing. Access to media equipment, particularly in the child's bedroom, was associated with higher levels of screen-viewing. Family-based strategies to reduce screen-viewing and limit media equipment access may be important ways to reduce child screen-viewing.

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