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Associations between parent attitudes and on and off-screen behaviours of preschool children

Updated: Dec 14, 2020



Associations between parent attitudes and on and off-screen behaviours of preschool children in Singapore.

Chia, M. Y. H., Chua, T. B. K., Komar, J., & Lua, V. Y. Q. (in review)


Abstract:

Digital media use, especially using mobile technologies like smart phones and tablets among Singaporean adults and children for work, school and leisure pursuits is widespread. On-screen and off-screen behaviours of preschool children in the home, are influenced by parental habits and attitudes, which are subject to conjecture. Compliance to 24-hour integrated guidelines for sleep, physical activity and sedentary behaviour are recommended for the holistic development of preschool children. The aim of the research was (a) to examine the relationships between parent and child digital media use on weekdays and weekend days, and (ii) to describe the characteristics of the top and bottom quartiles of child digital media use in meeting the 24-hour integrated guidelines for sleep, physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Data of 1481 parents (78.5% mothers, 21.1% fathers and 0.3% legal guardians) of preschool children in 2019 were captured using an online 25-item questionnaire (Surveillance of digital Media in eArLy chiLdhood, SMALLQ®) coupled with the Paediatric Quality of Life (PaedQL™). Results show a significant relationship between parents and child engagement with digital media (weekday, r= 0.274; weekend, r= 0.421, p<0.05) with no sex difference (p>0.05) in parent-reported daily child use of digital media (Pooled weekday and weekend data, 2.4±2.1 h for boys and 2.3±1.9 h for girls, p>0.05). Comparisons between the top (25%) and bottom (25%) quartiles of child-digital media use revealed significant differences (p<0.05) in (a) parental concerns for poor eyesight; (b) parental perceived importance of digital media use for knowledge, entertainment and for keeping the child occupied and (c) parental awareness and practice of guidelines for child digital media use (introduce only high quality programmes; co-watch or co-engage with child during media use; and limiting daily use to 60 minutes or less) and (d) quality of life and (e) meeting 24-hour integrated guidelines for sleep, physical activity and sedentary behaviour (Top versus bottom quartile in child digital media use: 0 versus 31.0% met all 3 guidelines; and 12.1 versus 0% did not meet any of the guidelines). A high proportion of parents voiced serious concerns for child digital media use- addiction (80-82%), poor sleep (78%), access to inappropriate content (75-80%), a lack of parent-child interaction (71-74%); poor eyesight (59-71%) and a lack of physical activity (62-68%), but these concerns were not reflected in positive parental actions. Stepped up efforts to educate parents on how to get the best digital media outcomes in early childhood, and enabling support through parents-supporting-parents-type networks or access to resource-rich and country-specific websites like the Media Literary Council (https://www.betterinternet.sg) and Families for Life (https://www.familiesforlife.sg) that provide digital parenting tips and guidance for preschool children, are suggestions for positive action.

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