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Abstract

Purpose: Home media that promote physical activity offer potential benefits in obesity prevention efforts for children, to the extent that they may represent “screen time” that is not sedentary. This study examined the relationships of home media density and parent media attitudes to preschool children’s time with TV, DVDs, and videogames, and children’s time with activity-promoting genres.

Methods: Hispanic mothers (N=237) of children aged six to 60 months reported on their preschool-aged children’s time with television, DVD players, and videogames, and time spent using activity-promoting programs or genres. Surveys in Spanish and English assessed the number of screen media channels and activity-promoting media genres used by the children; child time with three media channels and three activity-promoting genres served as outcome measures in a structural equation model.

Results: Mothers reported that children’s time with activity-promoting TV programs, DVDs and videogames was about half of the total time spent with those media channels (15-30 minutes for activity-promoting media time and 30-45 minutes for total time with TV, DVDs, and videogames). Confirmatory factor analyses established the latent variables of media density and parent media attitudes. The structural equation model reflected significant effects of parent media attitudes upon children’s total time with media and home media density upon children’s time with activity-promoting media. . Mothers’ media attitudes were not significantly related to their education, child gender, or their perception of the child as more active than other children. A re-specified model that incorporated correlations between child gender, parent education, and difficulty in setting media time limits provided an excellent fit [χ2 (33, N= 237) =36.53, p = .30, RMSEA = .02 CFI = .95, TLI = .94, WRMR =.76] of the model to the data.

Conclusions: Children’s time with media may not be sedentary. Activity-promoting media offer potential benefits in obesity prevention efforts for children, to the extent that they may increase the time that children are physically active. Parent attitudes can influence preschool children’s time with media, and the density of media in the home influences children’s use of activity-promoting media.

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