US parents were surveyed to determine the amount of background television that their children are exposed to as well as to isolate demographic factors associated with increased exposure to background television. After this, we ask how certain home media practices are linked to children’s background television exposure.
US parents/caregivers (N = 1454) with 1 child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years participated in this study. A nationally representative telephone survey was conducted. Parents were asked to report on their child’s exposure to background television via a 24-hour time diary. Parents were also asked to report relevant home media behaviors related to their child: bedroom television ownership, number of televisions in the home, and how often a television was on in the home.
The average US child was exposed to 232.2 minutes of background television on a typical day. With the use of multiple regression analysis, we found that younger children and African American children were exposed to more background television. Leaving the television on while no one is viewing and children’s bedroom television ownership were associated with increased background television exposure.
Although recent research has shown the negative consequences associated with background television, this study provides the first nationally representative estimates of that exposure. The amount of exposure for the average child is startling. This study offers practitioners potential pathways to reduce exposure.