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Determinanten van televisiekijken door jonge kinderen: Een onderzoek naar de rol van structurele gezinsomstandigheden

By Ine Beyens

Abstract

Considerable research has indicated that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers spend large amounts of their time watching television. Triggered by questions about the potential consequences of the widespread use of television by infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, research has accumulated evidence that television may affect children both in positive and negative ways. While numerous studies have investigated the role of television in children’s lives, thereby increasing our understanding of the effects that television may have on children, the processes and mechanisms that determine children’s television selection are not fully understood, notwithstanding the importance of unraveling these mechanisms for our understanding of media effects. Scholars have particularly criticized the lack of research into the role of structural family circumstances as determinants of children’s television use. This dissertation aimed to address this lacuna and deepen our understanding of the determinants of young children’s television exposure. More specifically, the first aim of the dissertation was to investigate the relevance of traditional theoretical frameworks that emphasize the role of socio-demographic determinants, parental modeling, and parents’ attitudes toward television. To this end, two traditionally framed studies were conducted, that investigate the role of traditional determinants and relevant moderators (Part 1). The second aim of the dissertation was to extend traditional theoretical frameworks by introducing and validating a life logistics perspective on children’s television use, that emphasizes the role of structural family circumstances as determinants of children’s television use. To this end, three studies were conducted, that investigate the additional impact of structural family circumstances and the role of relevant moderators (Part 2). The first study (N = 844), relying on traditional theoretical frameworks and adding relevant moderators, investigates a two-stage model of socio-demographic, psychosocial, parental modeling, and viewing motivation correlates of children’s television use. The study shows that parents with more positive attitudes toward television, and, indirectly, parents who watch more television themselves, rely more often on television to occupy children. The use of television to occupy children is associated with increased television viewing, especially among children of parents with strong positive attitudes toward television and children of parents with more education. The second traditional study proposes a two-stage model that investigates the associations among parents’ cognitions regarding children’s television use, parents’ intentions regarding children’s television use, and children’s television use, drawing on reasoned action theory. The study (N = 282) shows that parents’ perceived normative pressure and perceived control over children’s television viewing are associated with children’s television viewing and that these relationships are mediated by parents’ intentions regarding children’s television viewing. Moreover, the study casts doubt on the role of parental attitudes as an explanation for children’s television use. In Part 2, we aimed to extend the traditionally framed studies of Part 1 by introducing and validating the life logistics perspective and investigating the role of structural family circumstances. The first study investigates maternal structural life circumstances longitudinally associated with children’s television viewing and potential mechanisms underlying this association. Using two-wave panel data of mothers of one- to four-year-olds (N = 404), the study demonstrates a longitudinal relationship between mothers’ working hours and children’s TV time, that is mediated by mothers’ parenting time pressure and well-being. Moreover, the study shows that children’s television viewing is more a marker of maternal well-being and parenting time pressure than of mothers’ attitudes toward television, with children of mothers with high parenting time pressure and poor well-being watching more television. The study demonstrates the relevance of structural family circumstances as determinants of children’s television use and emphasizes the importance of extending traditional theoretical perspectives with a life logistics perspective. The second study of Part 2 applies a life logistics perspective on children’s television use and investigates the contribution of structural family circumstances to the use of television to soothe children. In particular, the study examines the associations among children’s temperament, mothers’ mental well-being, mothers’ motivation for using television to soothe their children, and the time children spend watching television. A survey of mothers of one- to five-year-olds (N = 944) shows that mothers of children with temperamental problems and mothers who feel depressed are more likely to use television to soothe their children. Also, children with more temperamental problems watch more television, especially when their mothers experience mental distress. The third study of Part 2 deepens our understanding of the role of parental attitudes toward television by relying on the life logistics perspective. The two-wave panel study among mothers of children between ages six months and six years (N = 508) investigates the possibility of a reciprocal relationship between mothers’ attitudes toward television and children’s television viewing and the conditional probability of this reciprocal relationship. Two-wave multi-group cross-lagged analyses show that the role of mothers’ attitudes toward television in children’s television use appears to be contingent upon structural family circumstances, in particular the level of stress that mothers experience. Mothers’ attitudes toward television positively predict children’s subsequent television viewing among non-stressed mothers, but not among stressed mothers. Children’s television viewing predicts mothers’ subsequent negative attitudes toward television among stressed mothers, but not among non-stressed mothers. Overall, the dissertation shows that traditional orientations regarding the determinants of children’s television use, that emphasize the role of socio-demographic factors, parental modeling, and parents’ attitudes toward children’s television use, reveal important mechanisms and processes that determine children’s television use. By adding relevant moderators to the traditionally framed models, the dissertation shows among which parents and children traditional determinants have the strongest impact. However, the dissertation also demonstrates that complementing these traditional perspectives with a life logistics perspective provides new insights into the importance of the traditional determinants, showing that (1) structural family circumstances outweigh traditional determinants of children’s television use; (2) the role of parents’ attitudes in children’s television use needs to be put into perspective; and (3) the importance of traditional determinants of children’s television use is contingent upon structural family circumstances. The application of the life logistics perspective clearly shows that in order to fully understand young children’s television exposure, the role of structural family circumstances needs to be understood. The studies presented in the dissertation consistently show that children’s television viewing is more a marker of structural family circumstances than of traditional determinants. Moreover, the dissertation provides evidence for not overly relying on parental attitudes as an explanation of children’s television use. Traditional theoretical frameworks that emphasize the role of socio-demographic determinants, parental modeling, and parents’ attitudes toward television are not sufficient. Complementing these traditional determinants with structural family circumstances is necessary to more fully understand the processes and mechanisms that determine children’s television use and, to a wider extent, the effects that television may have on children.nrpages: 241status: publishe

Year: 2015
OAI identifier: oai:lirias.kuleuven.be:123456789/511863
Provided by: Lirias
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