Study Finds Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Use is Beneficial


Media Advisory: To contact author Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., call Angie Hunt at 515-294-8986 or email

JAMA Pediatrics


Bottom Line: Parental monitoring of the time children spend watching television, playing video games and being online can be associated with more sleep, improved school performance and better behavior by the children.


Author: Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., of Iowa State University, Ames, and colleagues.


Background:  Previous research suggests high levels of screen time are associated with less sleep, attention problems and lower academic progress.


How the Study Was Conducted: The study included self-reported data from 1,323 school children (in the third through fifth grades) from two communities in Iowa and Minnesota, along with data about the students provided by primary caregivers and teachers. The data were collected as part of an obesity prevention program.


Results: Study results suggest that increased monitoring by parents reduced children’s total screen time (TST) which results in children getting more sleep, doing better in school and having less aggressive behavior. The results suggest more sleep is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). More parental monitoring also resulted in less exposure to violence on television and in video games, which was associated with increased positive behavior and decreased aggressive behavior.


Discussion: “Pediatricians, family practitioners, nurses and other health care professionals who encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s media may be much more effective at improving a wide range of healthy behaviors than they realize.”

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 31, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.146. Available pre-embargo to the media at


Editor’s Note: The study was sponsored by Medica Foundation, the Healthy and Active America Foundation, and Fairview Health Services in Lakeville, Minn. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the study was sponsored by Cargill Inc., and the Healthy and Active America Foundation. Switch is a registered trademark of Iowa State University. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

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