Patterns of preschool children's screen time, parent-child interactions and cognitive development in early childhood: a pilot study

  • Author / Creator
    Rai, Jasmine
  • Background: The objectives of this pilot study were to examine total duration and patterns of screen time use in preschool children, the correlations between total duration and patterns of screen time and cognitive development, and the differences in quality of parent–child interactions for two screen-based tasks and a storybook reading task.
    Methods: Participants included 44 children aged 3 years and their parents from Edmonton, Alberta and surrounding areas. Children’s screen time patterns (i.e., type, device, content, context) were parental-reported using a 2-week online daily diary design. Children’s cognitive development (i.e., working memory, inhibitory control, self-control, and language) was measured with four separate tests virtually through a recorded Zoom session. Parent–child interactions during three separate tasks (i.e., video, electronic game, and storybook reading) were also measured virtually through a separate recorded Zoom session (n = 42). The quality of the interactions was determined by the Parent-Child Interaction System (PARCHISY). Spearman’s Rho correlations and a one-way repeated measures ANOVA with a post-hoc Bonferroni test were conducted.
    Results: On average, children spent 88.7 minutes/day (SD = 56.8) watching a show/movie/video of a total 103.5 minutes/day (SD =59.2) of screen time. After adjusting for child age and parental education, educational screen use was significantly positively correlated with vocabulary (rs = 0.38; p = 0.018) while co-use was significantly negatively correlated with self-control (rs = -0.32; p = 0.049). A medium effect size was also observed for the correlation between educational screen time and response inhibition (rs = 0.33; p = 0.074), total screen time and working memory (rs = -0.32; p = 0.056), and show/movie/video viewing and working memory (rs = -0.32; p = 0.056). Finally, the quality of parent–child interaction was significantly different between all the three tasks, with the electronic game having the highest quality score.
    Conclusions: Preschool children primarily used screen devices to watch shows/movies/videos for entertainment purposes, and parent–child interaction quality was the lowest for this type of screen time. Additionally, this type of screen time was negatively correlated with working memory. Conversely, high-quality educational screen time, in particular electronic games that
    may facilitate higher-quality parent–child interactions appeared to have a potential benefit for cognitive development. Findings should be confirmed in larger, more generalizable samples.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.