Digital Parenting: Media Uses in Parenting Routines during the First Two Years of Life

Yehuda Bar Lev, Nelly Elias


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children younger than 18 months of age should have no access to screen media, while children aged 18 to 24 months may be allowed occasional viewing of high-quality children’s programs together with their parents. Despite these stringent recommendations, however, television and digital devices manifest significant presence in the everyday lives of very young children, even during infancy. Therefore, major empirical efforts were exerted to reveal various predictors of young children’s screen time and suggest effective means for its reduction. Along these lines, the present study examined parental media practices applied during infancy and early toddlerhood and how these practices contribute to children’s excessive media exposure during the first two years of their life. It was based on a longitudinal study which followed ten families with children from the age of three months until they reached two years, and included a series of observations at the families’ homes and in-depth interviews with parents. The findings reveal that parents extensively exposed their children to screen devices, which played a significant role in the daily parenting routines. All parents used screens as a “background,” a “babysitter”, a “pacifier” and a “childcare toolkit”, regardless of their own attitudes towards media effects on their young children. Consequently, it is suggested to increase parental awareness towards their instrumental use of media as part of their parenting routine, which may impart unhealthy media habits and affect their children’s long-term development.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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