Infant and mother–infant play and the presence of the television
Elise Frank Masur
, Valerie Flynn
Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115 USA
Department of Psychology, Aurora University, USA
Available online 20 November 2007
Forty-eight middle-class mothers answered questionnaires about their 11-through 18-month-old infants' typical television
watching and interest, the frequency and duration of their independent play with toys and dyadic play with and without toys, and
whether the television was typically on or not on in the room at the time. Mothers reported that most infants had little interest in and
spent little time actively watching television. However, mothers reported the television was typically turned on in the room at least
half the time during independent play with toys for 44% of infants and during dyadic play with toys for 53% of infants. These
findings provide evidence relevant to researchers' and practitioners' concerns regarding the potential negative impact of
television's presence on infant development, mother–child interaction, and the ecological validity of observational research
methods involving play or interactions in the absence of a television.
© 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Infant play; Television; Mother–child interaction; Observational research; Ecological validity
Despite recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (2001) against television watching by children
under age 2, studies find substantial viewing. For example, Pierroutsakos, Cooper, Kutner, and Choyce (2005) reported
an average of 58 min of active attending to television or video programs in a sample of 100 children aged 2.5 through
24 months. In a national survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 61% of parents of 6-through 23-month-olds
said that their children had watched television or other screen media the preceding day for an average of 1.33 h (Rideout
& Hamel, 2006). In addition, Christakis, Zimmerman, DiGiuseppe, and McCarty (2004) found that parents reported an
average of 2.2 h of TV watching per day in a national sample of children averaging 20 months of age. Questions about
the nature, extent, and impact of young children's television and video watching are generating considerable research
and concern (see Anderson & Pempek, 2005, and Jordan, 2004, for recent reviews).
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 29 (2008) 76 – 83
Preliminary results were presented in 2007 at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Boston, MA. The authors
thank the directors and staff of the Northern Illinois University Campus Child Care Center and Child Development Laboratories for their help in
distributing questionnaires; Brad Montgomery and Rachael Katz for including our questionnaires in research materials given to participants in their
studies; Jeri-Lamia Farmer for help with data entry; the participating mothers; and two anonymous reviewers.
E-mail address: email@example.com (E.F. Masur).
0193-3973/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.