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Fussy Infants & Toddlers Tend to Watch More Media, Starting a Lifelong Habit

​Babies who have problems with self-regulation also tend to have more media exposure, and their parents may be especially likely to benefit from help with managing these aspects of their children’s development, according to the study, “Infant Self-Regulation and Early Childhood Media Exposure” in the May 2014 issue of Pediatrics (published online April 14).

The authors describe self-regulation difficulties as problems with self-soothing, sleep, emotional regulation and attention. They looked at data from 7,450 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of children born in 2001, including information reported by parents at 9 months and 2 years of age. The researchers compared the children’s rates of self-regulation problems and their rates of media use. They found that the infants and toddlers whom parents characterized as most fussy and having other self-regulation difficulties also had the most media exposure, even after accounting for other factors that influence these characteristics, such as sociodemographic factors and home environment. It was not clear whether these children’s use of media developed in response to their fussiness, or if media use somehow contributed to some of their self-regulation difficulties.

The authors noted that early childhood is a crucial time for forming lifelong media habits, and raised the possible benefit of  interventions to help parents manage their children’s difficult behaviors as well as manage their media diets for both amount and content.

Editor’s Note: A related study, “Television Viewing, Bedroom Television, and Sleep Duration from Infancy to Mid-Childhood,” also will be published online April 14.

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Published
4/14/2014 12:00 AM