The impact of parent and child media use on parent-child attachment in early childhood



With the rise in affordability of digital media and mobile devices, children under age 2 on average spend significantly more time with digital media than is recommended. Although concerns have been expressed about how parent and child media use might negatively impact parent–child attachment, there continues to be a scarcity of research on the topic. The current study assessed both the amount and the way in which children (11–26 months) and their parents engage with digital media and the impact on early attachment after controlling for temperament, parent income, parent age, marital status, and access to support. The study utilizes data from a diverse sample: 248 parents of infants completed an attachment q-sort and surveys assessing the amount of media use, parental absorption in media, types of parental mediation, temperament, and demographics. Results showed that for both parent and child, time using digital media and co-viewing was not predictive of attachment insecurity. Parental absorption in media was found to significantly predict attachment insecurity. Greater child TV media use was associated with poorer attachment security when there was limited to no parental active mediation. Active mediation served as a protective factor for attachment while parental absorption in media serves as a risk factor for attachment.

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