• Presentation

Empowering Parental Monitoring of Children’s TV Use: A Foundation Strategy to Prevent Childhood Obesity


Hersey, J. C., & Salib, S. S. (2005, December). Empowering Parental Monitoring of Children's TV Use: A Foundation Strategy to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.


Problem: Mounting evidence suggests that TV use can contribute to the risk of childhood overweight, and interventions that can reduce TV viewing can positively affect growth in BMI. Nonetheless, more than two-thirds of youth watch at least 2 hours of TV on each weekday. This study presents evidence that one of the contributors may be inaccuracies on parental monitoring.

Methods: We conducted small group discussions with 180 parents and children ages 6-7, 9-10, and 12-13 along with their parents. Respondents were divided between white, African-American, and Hispanic youth in three cities.

Results: The study results found that while parents reported that their children viewed an average of 2 hours each weekend; in contrast, the children themselves reported that they watched more than 3 hours on a school day, when we talked with children about the various programs they watched during the day. This total increased to more than 5 hours of total screen time when time with videogames and computer games was included. One challenge is that parents often report that they are uncertain about what is included in monitoring--particularly background TV or viewing with parents. Parents are also uncertain about monitoring on weekends and report difficulty in monitoring videogame use.

Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of efforts to encourage and to better empower to monitor their children's TV and media use, as a step to reducing TV recommended levels of no more the 2 hours of TV a day.