Media Content and Externalizing Behaviors in Latino Toddlers


      There has been limited study of the association between media exposure and behavior in children younger than age 3 years. We sought to study this association in toddlers and determine whether the association varied depending on media content.


      We carried out a secondary analysis of a cohort of Latino mother-infant dyads followed from birth to 33 months. We assessed media exposure at 21 and 33 months with a 24-hour recall diary that included information about the duration and content of each program watched. Behavior was assessed at 33 months by the Child Behavior Checklist.


      This analysis included 99 dyads. Results from multiple logistic regression analyses indicated associations of child behavior outcomes with 21-month total media exposure and both 21-month and 33-month exposure to noneducational young child media such as cartoons, after adjusting for maternal education, country of origin, and depressive symptoms, participation in a parenting program, and difficult child temperament. Media exposure has most consistent associations with aggressive behavior and externalizing problems.


      Media exposure was associated with externalizing behavior in Latino toddlers, with the strongest association for media oriented toward young children but without educational content. This finding has importance for both parents of young children and pediatricians as they provide anticipatory guidance.

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