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The impact of baby videos on parent -child interaction

Tiffany A Pempek, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) has urged parents to avoid exposure to screen media for children under 2 years of age. Despite this recommendation, producers of children's videos have begun to target younger audiences than ever before. One way that media may have a positive impact on very young children is by demonstrating and encouraging the types of parent-child interaction known to be beneficial to healthy cognitive, social, and emotional growth. The research described here examines the effectiveness of videos from two series for infants and toddlers, both claiming to promote parent-child interaction. In this study, parents and children were asked to watch two videos either from the Baby Einstein video series or the Sesame Beginnings video series for two weeks at home prior to visiting the laboratory. Home viewing was followed by two laboratory sessions, separated by approximately one week. Session 1 was 30 minutes with the television off, while Session 2 consisted of a 30-minute segment of video viewing followed by a 15-minute segment with the television off. Quality and type of parent-child interaction were assessed for both sessions. Results revealed that active involvement with the child was relatively high when the television was off. Only for the Sesame Beginnings group, however, did coviewing at home predict high-quality parent-child interaction in the laboratory. This suggests that familiarity with videos that specifically model appropriate parent-child interactions may improve the overall nature of such interactions. During video viewing, there was a decrease in amount of active parent-child engagement regardless of video condition. However, the amount of high-quality parent-child interaction during video viewing was substantial, with active involvement occurring almost half of the time the video was on. Thus, at least in a laboratory setting, video viewing was generally not used as a replacement for involvement with the child. In all, this study indicates that parents can capitalize on the opportunities that baby videos provide and use them as a basis for parent-child interaction. With repeated exposure, some content may even have a more general positive impact on the quality of interaction with the child.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Pempek, Tiffany A, "The impact of baby videos on parent -child interaction" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3275789.