A new study examined four parenting styles and how they impact the amount of TV their children watch.
What influences the amount of TV children watch? How much control do parents really have? These are the questions that researchers at Oregon State University asked themselves. To determine the answers, the researchers grouped parents into four different scientific classifications based on control and warmth, and then measured how much screen time and sedentary activity their two- to four-year-old children engaged in. The study included about 200 families.
The parenting categories were:
- authoritative (high warmth, high control)
- authoritarian (less warmth, high control)
- permissive (high warmth, low control)
- neglectful (low warmth, low control)
Children with neglectful parents had the most screen time out of the group (a full 30 minutes more). And here’s some more scary news: parents who were neglectful during the weekdays (due to busy schedules, for example) did not make up for it over the weekend—sedentary time actually increased.
In contrast, the kids with the least screen time had parents who were classified as “authoritative”—high warmth as well as high control.
So what does this study teach us?
While it may not be a surprise that children with neglectful parents watch more TV, it is interesting to note that there are differences in the screen time patterns between children with controlling parents, depending on how warm the controlling parents are. So the best parenting style, according to the study, is outwardly kind, loving parents who also have a high degree of control.
Get your kids moving!
More bad news: the study noted far too much sedentary time across all parenting styles. Parents may not realize that even too much quiet play (such as colouring or completing a puzzle) can be negative. In fact, all the children were sitting four to five hours in a typical day.
New Canadian guidelines show that kids aged four and under need even more physical activity than previously though, and much more than older kids. The guidelines call for at least 180 minutes of activity per day, and screen time should be at a bare minimum. However, this doesn’t need to be high intensity exercise or sports; active play is sufficient, as long as kids are moving around.
Try out these tips for encouraging your kids to be active:
- Don’t be afraid of play—even noisy, rambunctious play. It’s essential for children’s growth and development.
- Engage in activities as a family, such as cycling, hiking, and swimming.
- Consider forms of mind-body exercise for kids, such as yoga.
- Don’t rely on “active video games” for exercise benefits. New research shows that they may not be as beneficial as previously thought.
- If you live close enough, encourage your children to walk to school.