Home » News » Parenting » Electronic Media Interferes With Preschoolers Communicating With Parents

Electronic Media Interferes With Preschoolers Communicating With Parents

A new study shows that it’s not only teenagers who are too preoccupied with electronic media to listen to their parents. It extends even to preschoolers.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that there is little mother-child dialogue or conversation while children between the ages of three and five are using media such as TV, video games, and mobile devices.

Unlike previous research that relied on self-reports by parents tracking their children’s media usage, the new study used enhanced audio equipment to track the home environment of preschoolers as they interacted with parents in 2010 and 2011.

For the study’s 44 families, the recordings averaged nearly 10 hours daily, the researchers reported. The recordings documented the format of media used, duration, and communication between the mother and child.

The audio recording output indicated when the recording device “picked up” a media signal, which allowed researchers to code media use and transcribe media-related talk at home. Researchers also examined demographic differences in media use and mother-child communication about media.

What they found is that children of mothers with graduate degrees had less electronic media exposure than kids of mothers with high school degrees and/or some college courses.

The preschoolers whose moms had advanced degrees often watched educational programs. In addition, these highly educated mothers were more likely than other mothers to discuss media with their children, said Nicholas Waters, the study’s lead author and survey specialist at the university’s Institute for Social Research.

“Importantly, children of mothers with less than a graduate degree were exposed to media without any dialogue related to the media content for the vast majority of the time,” said co-author Sarah Domoff, a research fellow with the university’s Center for Human Growth and Development.

This is important because parents’ “active mediation” of television and other types of media may mitigate risks associated with media exposure, she noted.

The study’s findings were presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science conference.

Source: University of Michigan

Electronic Media Interferes With Preschoolers Communicating With Parents

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Electronic Media Interferes With Preschoolers Communicating With Parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 28 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.