Parental stress and children’s screen time

A recent study from the University of Guelph (a public research university in Ontario, Canada) has drawn a link between high levels of stress in the lives of mothers and less monitoring of their young children’s screen time.

The study surveyed 64 parents from 39 families with young children aged 18 months to 5 years. Highly stressed mothers were more likely to use their own devices in front of their children and less likely to monitor their children’s screen time, perhaps because they chose to avoid conflict with their children when they already had a lot of stress in their lives. Fathers, on the other hand, were more likely to monitor screen time when they themselves were highly stressed, perhaps suggesting that stressed fathers are more likely to enforce rules.

It is important to understand whether parents use their devices more when they are under stress as it is already known that there is an association between parental use of screens and their children’s. The more parents use screens, the more their children tend to. And the more screen time children have, the more likely they are to spend less time in physical activity and therefore suffer from obesity. Language delay is also associated with children’s and parents’ greater use of screens.

A further dimension of this study examined the link between ‘household chaos’ and screen time. The researchers found a link between greater household chaos and more screen time monitoring by parents. The explanation for this may be that when children don’t use their screens as much, they are more likely to cause chaos in the household. This leads to the conclusion that a little household chaos may be the [desirable] consequence of reduced screen time!

Read more: Tang, L. et al. (2020) Parenting under pressure: Stress is associated with mothers’ and fathers’ media parenting practices in Canada. Journal of Children and Media.

  • Created on .
© 2020 The International Journal of Birth and Parent Education
REGISTERED OFFICE: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, London WC2A 3TH