Infant Television Watching Predicts Toddler Television Watching in a Low-Income Population

Alexander J. Hish, Charles T. Wood, Janna B. Howard, Kori B. Flower, H. Shonna Yin, Russell L. Rothman, Alan M. Delamater, Lee M. Sanders, Aihua Bian, Jonathan S. Schildcrout, Eliana M. Perrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examines the development of active television (TV) watching behaviors across the first 2 years of life in a racially and ethnically diverse, low-income cohort and identifies caregiver and child predictors of early TV watching. Methods: We used longitudinal data from infants enrolled in the active control group (N = 235; 39% Latino; 29% Black; 15% White) of Greenlight, a cluster randomized multisite trial to prevent childhood obesity. At preventive health visits from 2 months to 2 years, caregivers were asked: “How much time does [child's first name] spend watching television each day?” Proportional odds models and linear regression analyses were used to assess associations among TV introduction age, active TV watching amount at 2 years, and sociodemographic factors. Results: Sixty-eight percent of children watched TV by 6 months, and 88% by 2 years. Age of TV introduction predicted amount of daily active TV watching at 2 years, with a mean time of 93 minutes if starting at 2 months; 64 minutes if starting at 4 or 6 months; and 42 minutes if starting after 6 months. Factors predicting earlier introduction included lower income, fewer children in household, care away from home, male sex, and non-Latino ethnicity of child. Conclusions: Many caregivers report that their infants actively watch TV in the first 6 months of life. Earlier TV watching is related to sociodemographic factors yet predicts more daily TV watching at 2 years even controlling those factors. Interventions to limit early TV watching should be initiated in infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-995
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • infants
  • pediatrics
  • screen media
  • screen time
  • television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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