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The Role of Television Access in the Viewing Time of US Adolescents



We identify the adolescent and family factors that shape the time adolescents spend viewing television. Adolescent traits, family/household characteristics, television access, and TV viewing time were assessed by self-report using a web-based survey conducted with a sample of 457 14- to 16-year-old adolescents in a Northeastern US city. Bivariate analyses indicated that the number of televisions in the home, having a bedroom TV, and subscribing to premium cable/satellite channels were each positively and significantly associated with television viewing time. Regression results show that having greater access to TV significantly increased viewing independent of adolescent and family variables. In addition, the influence of different forms of access on adolescent time varied by respondent race. Having a television set in the bedroom was the strongest predictor of TV time for White adolescents, and having more television sets in the home was the strongest predictor of TV time for Black adolescents. The pattern of findings suggests that interventions should encourage parents to make their adolescents’ bedrooms television free and to reduce the number of television sets in the home. Campaigns designed to reduce TV viewing may be most effective if they are tailored for distinct audiences.