Screen Time Exposure and Children's Behavioral Correlates

Linda Escobar Olszewski, Pace University


Screened electronic devices are quite effective at capturing children's and parents' attention. Now an integral part of the daily lives of Americans, screened electronic devices such as computers, entertainment centers, gaming devices, laptops, smartphones, and tablets serve as portable offices, entertainment centers, and a means to stay connected with others. Research focusing on television viewing, the older and more traditional type of screen time, has suggested that television is positively correlated with aggression, attention problems, obesity, and poor academic performance. It is suspected that screen time, which includes all screened devices, may have potentially significant child developmental, educational, parent-child relational, and social consequences. The exposure to electronic devices has increased exponentially in the past decade, suggesting some urgency to investigate, measure, and understand this phenomenon and its potential impact, particularly on children. This study examines both children's and parents' time with screened electronic devices and to what extent screen time may be correlated with children's behavior. The parent development theory (PDT; Mowder, 2005) was used as the overarching theoretical model for defining parents and parenting. The sample consisted of 96 parents and caregivers who provided information on one "target" child under their care. Participants responded to two questionnaires, the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) and the screen time questionnaire (STQ). Major findings of this study were: With regard to a parent engaging in screen time that distracts their attention away from their child, or parent distracting screen time, (1) a positive relationship with children's aggressive behavior was found, and (2) the relationship between parents' distracting screen time and children's degree of somatization behaviors were determined to be moderated by parents' educational level. With reference to children's screen time: (1) A significant interaction was found between children's general use of screen time and parent employment, (2) children's gender was found to moderate the relationship between children's screen time use for entertainment and withdrawal behaviors, with contrasting relationships for male and female children, and (3) parents' employment status was found to moderate the relationship between children's screen time for entertainment purposes and adaptive skills, particularly in the areas of activities of daily living and functional communication. Thus, the findings of this study highlight the need to take into account the particular context of screen time use (e.g., for entertainment purposes, distracting screen time), by both parents and children, when considering the relationship with children's behavior. As screened electronic devices become increasingly embedded in the parent-child dyad, further investigation is warranted to fully understand the positive and negative influences screen time may have on children's behavior.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Olszewski, Linda Escobar, "Screen Time Exposure and Children's Behavioral Correlates" (2015). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3663954.



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