Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Daniel R. Anderson

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology


A number of studies suggest that the amount of early screen media exposure is related to negative developmental outcomes, namely poorer executive functioning and language skills (Anderson & Pempek, 2005). Television’s constant presence in the home could lead to potentially serious consequences for infants and toddlers. However, hypotheses attributing long-term negative outcomes to the direct effects of television on children are limited. There are no definitive mechanisms to explain how these effects are instantiated within children over time. Furthermore, the indirect influences of television on children remain entirely unexplored. Television’s impact can have a potentially greater indirect effect on young children by directly influencing parents’ behaviors, which in turn, disrupt the quality of their interactions with their children. As a result, the current longitudinal study investigated the impact of infant television exposure on later cognitive and learning outcomes at age 6 to 9 years of age to assess whether parent-child interactions mediate this association. Results indicated that parent engagement and parent language during infancy did not mediate this relationship between early television exposure and children’s later cognitive skills. Rather, the amount of coviewing television during infancy directly and negatively predicted later school-age children’s working memory skills, academic abilities, and language outcomes. These results seemingly contradict the current recommendation to coview television because of its known educational benefits for preschool-aged children and older; findings, therefore, are discussed in terms of what these data mean for future recommendations and guidelines for children’s media use.