Screen Time for Parents and Caregivers: Parental Screen Distraction and Parenting Perceptions and Beliefs

Alixandra Blackman, Pace University


In recent years, the concept of screen time has become an increasingly salient topic in the media. The national conversation about screen time has raised public concerns regarding implications for children's academic, emotional, and physical functioning. Less concern has been expressed over parents' and caregivers' screen time usage. As ownership of screened electronic devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, increases due to accessibility and affordability, so does time associated with screens and the likelihood that individuals are distracted by these devices. As a result, caregivers and parents seem drawn to screened devices, which, in turn, may influence interactions with children. These phenomena support the need for research to investigate parents' and caregivers' levels of distraction while spending time with their charges, due to screened devices. This study examined aspects of parental screen time, child screen time, and parental screen distraction with regard to the importance that parents and caregivers place on parenting behaviors. The parent development theory (PDT) was used as the theoretical context for this study. Parental screen distraction (PSD) refers to the moments in which parents or caregivers are distracted from performing behaviors associated with the parent role due to engagement with a screened device. While the overarching focus of this study is on parents and parenting with regard to screen time, the study also includes caregivers who spend greater than 20 hours per week caring for children. Within the context of this study, both parent and non-parent caregivers are categorized as individuals who are responsible for performing behaviors associated with the parent role while caring for children. Therefore, parental screen time (PST) and PSD refers to the screen time use of both parents and caregivers. Specifically, this study examines the relationship among PST, child screen time, PSD, the importance parents and caregivers place on parenting behaviors, and demographic variables. The sample consisted of 93 parents and caregivers, and data was analyzed based on two questionnaires, the Screen Time Questionnaire (STQ), and the Parent Behavior Importance Questionnaire-Revised (PBIQ-R). Major findings of this study indicate: (1) a positive significant relationship between PST and child screen time, (2) a positive significant relationship between PST and PSD, (3) a negative relationship between PSD and responsivity, and (4) parent/caregiver education level and income significantly moderate the relationship between PST and PSD. The findings of this study highlight the presence of PSD and the relationship of PSD to lower levels of parental responsivity. As ownership of and dependence on screened devices continues to increase, further investigation is warranted to understand the role of screen time within the parent-child and caregiver-child relationship as well as the role that PSD may play on children's development.

Subject Area

Multimedia Communications|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Blackman, Alixandra, "Screen Time for Parents and Caregivers: Parental Screen Distraction and Parenting Perceptions and Beliefs" (2015). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3664563.



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