Former APPC Postdoctoral Fellow Cortney Evans, Ph.D., is the lead author of a forthcoming article, “Only Two Hours? A Qualitative Study of the Challenges Parents Perceive in Restricting Child Television Time,” which will appear in the Journal of Family Issues (September 2011). Dr. Evans’ co-authors are APPC Media and Developing Child Area Director Amy Jordan, Ph.D., and Annenberg School for Communication alumna Jennifer Horner, Ph.D.
This study examines parents’ and children’s reaction to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to limit children’s television (TV) viewing to 2 hours a day or less. To better understand the challenges faced by parents who would seek to adhere to the guidelines, we conducted qualitative small group interviews with 60 parent/child dyads from each of the following three age groups: 6 to 7, 9 to 10, and 12 to 13 years (N = 180 children and 180 parents). Parents and children were interviewed separately and transcripts were thematically analyzed using Atlas.ti. Results indicate three salient challenges: (a) limiting children’s TV time will cause conflict in the home because of children’s anger at parents’ rules and increased bickering between siblings; (b) replacing TV as an entertainer takes time away from parents and requires monetary and community resources that are not available; and (c) TV is seen as a beneficial presence in the home, offering entertainment, free babysitting, and educational opportunities.