Here’s To How Frequent TV Watching of Kids Causes More Stress To Parents


It is not surprising that children learn how to turn on a TV before they can talk in this modern day where technology use is pervasive. Most parents now resort to luring their kids into a TV trap to keep them occupied while they handle household duties or other critical tasks. First, parents let their children watch a cartoon after school and continue doing so while the parent prepares dinner. Before you know it, he is viewing more television than the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests, just like the average American child.

Numerous studies have shown the harmful effects of children watching too much television, including losing time for play, study, learning activities, and exercise. Kids may harbor harmful thoughts and exhibit negative behaviors because they are quickly influenced by what they see and hear, especially on television.

However, children’s TV viewing has an impact on their parents as well as on their growth, development, and habits. We will discuss an intriguing discovery from a study conducted at the University of Arizona and published in the International Journal of Advertising. It looked at how children’s television viewing habits affect their parents’ stress levels.

More TV For Kids Is More Stress For Parents

The study is derived from survey data from 433 parents of kids between the ages of 2 and 12. Because younger children spend more time shopping with their parents and have less independent spending power than older children, the researchers concentrated on this age group, according to Lapierre.

The parents in the study replied to questions intended to gauge their communication patterns as well as questions about:

  • How much television their child watches in a day.
  • How often does their child asks for or demand a product during shopping trips or touches a product without asking?
  • How often their child engages in specific coercive behaviors during shopping trips?
  • Parent stress levels.

The study concluded that parents who frequently leave their children in front of the TV to give themselves a break can become more anxious.

This is due to the fact that the more television that children watch, the more advertising messages they are exposed to. According to studies, this may add to parents’ stress by increasing the likelihood that children will insist on buying things when they go shopping with their parents and may act out if they are told “no.”

The researchers offered several prevention strategies, including restricting screen time and discussing how parents talk to their children about consumerism.

The researchers looked at the efficacy of three types of parent-child consumer-related communication:

  • Collaborative communication is when a parent asks a child’s opinion on family purchase decisions, for instance, by saying, “I will listen to your suggestions on specific products or brands,” 
  • Control communication is when a parent asserts complete control in contact with their children regarding purchases, for instance, by telling them things like, “Don’t argue with me when I say no to your product request.”
  • Advertising communication is when parents discuss commercial messaging with their kids, for instance, by stating things like, “Commercials will say anything to entice you to buy anything.”

They discovered that cooperative communication generally reduces parent stress. However, as children’s purchase initiative and coercive behaviors — such as fighting, complaining, or throwing temper tantrums — escalate, the protective benefit of collaborative communication diminishes.

The researchers discovered that control and advertising communication are linked to increased purchase-initiating behavior and coercive behavior in kids, indicating that using those communication techniques less frequently may be advantageous.

However, the protective impact of engaging in less advertising communication declines as children’s exposure to television increases.

In conclusion, the researchers discovered that collaborative communication between parents and kids was a more effective method of lowering parental stress. However, when kids want more goods or have more disputes with their parents over purchases, this communication tactic exhibits diminishing returns.

Journal Reference

Lapierre, M. A., Krcmar, M., Choi, E., Haberkorn, K. A., & Locke, S. J. (2020). Take a deep breath: The effects of television exposure and family communication on family shopping-related stress. International Journal of Advertising, 40(4), 529–551. 

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