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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2010

Month Degree Awarded

September

Keywords

television, play, children, infants, parent-child interactions, coviewing

Abstract

The association between television exposure and infants’ toy play was examined. Specifically, differences in the amount of program content and coviewing in the home were expected to predict different patterns of play when children were away from television. This thesis also sought to extend Pempek’s (2007) findings indicating that the more parents coviewed certain baby videos (i.e., Sesame Beginnings) in the home with their children, the more likely these parents actively engaged with their children in the laboratory. Consequently, the current thesis examined whether or not this active engagement resulted in something meaningful for children’s play behaviors. Parents of infants who were either 12- to 15- months or 18- to 21- months were given a TV viewing diary to record their children’s TV exposure at home over a two-week period. In addition, parent-infant dyads were randomly assigned to view either Baby Einstein or Sesame Beginnings videos in the home. A control group was not assigned to watch any videos. All dyads visited the laboratory after the exposure period for a videotaped 30-min free-time session (no TV). Each observation was coded for the amount of time children spent in play, mean play episode length, and total number of play episodes as well as the level of parent engagement. Results indicated that the amount of television exposure in the home did not influence infants’ toy play even when program content and coviewing were considered. Moreover, the increase in active parental engagement found in Pempek’s study did not result in an increase in children’s play behaviors. These results suggest that television does not have a distal influence on children’s play behaviors, regardless of content, coviewing, and level of parent engagement.

First Advisor

Daniel R. Anderson

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