BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Parents Less Likely to Enforce Screen Time When Stressed, Study Says

“Research has shown that when parents use screens in front of their preschool-aged children, it is associated with those children having greater levels of screen time."
save article
profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published June 29, 2020
children in front of television
Image: Getty Images

The pandemic has put strain on families all over the world in more ways than one. It’s no surprise that parents have revised their previous rules to maintain a happy quarantine life—including screen time. Now, a new study is pointing that these rules are, unsurprisingly, thrown out more frequently when parents face increased stress.

The study, conducted by University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and published in the Journal of Children and Media, found that parents with young children and higher levels of life or parenting stress were less likely to monitor and limit their children’s screen use. Plus, they were more likely to use their own devices in front of their kids.

The study surveyed 64 parents from 39 families that had kids ranging in age from 18 months to 5 years. Researchers asked the parents about their stress, whether they monitored and/or limited their children’s screen usage and whether they monitored/limited their own screen use in front of their kids.

“With this study, we wanted to understand the implications of parental stress on media parenting practices. We found parenting stress does indeed affect how parents manage screen time but influenced mothers and fathers differently,” lead author of the study Lisa Tang, a PhD student in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, said in a news release. According to her, previous research has shown that parents frequently influence the amount of time their kids spend on screens.

The study found that moms who were stressed were more likely to say they used devices in front of their kids and less likely to monitor the use. Meanwhile, the fathers who experienced high stress were more likely to limit their kids’ screen use.

“Parents do seem to say they use their screens more when they are under stress, perhaps as an escape,” Tang said. “This is an important finding because research has shown that when parents use screens in front of their preschool-aged children, it is associated with those children having greater levels of screen time.”

One surprising finding? Higher household chaos, which is a stress level that assesses commotion and noisiness in the home, was linked to more screen time monitoring by both parents. The researchers believe that the higher levels of household chaos could be attributed to children not being on screens and more involved in household activities.

Of course, the purpose of the study isn’t to make parents feel bad or guilty about screen use. “There’s nothing wrong with using screens now and again. We are all doing the best we can, especially now, and parents of children under five need to allow themselves a break,” professor Jess Haines and co-author of the study, said in the release. “This is really about excess screen time. It’s about making parents conscious of their practices and balancing active play with screen time, and modelling that behaviour.”

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

nervous woman thinking at home
How to Tell if You’re Experiencing Postpartum Anxiety
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Ryan Reynolds attends Paramount's "If" New York premiere at SVA Theater on May 13, 2024 in New York City
How Ryan Reynolds Has Turned His Anxiety Into His Parenting Superpower
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding baby clothes
Why Is Getting Rid of Baby’s Old Clothes So Hard?
By Natalie Gontcharova
ADVERTISEMENT
chrissy teigen at home with her 4 children
Chrissy Teigen Shares the Hardest Part of Being a Mom of Four
By Wyndi Kappes
tired mom holding baby in nursery
Why Black Moms Face Higher Rates of Burnout (and How to Cope)
By A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez
mother in deep thought while holding baby
How the Concept of ‘Matrescence’ Can Help You Navigate Parenthood
By Natalie Gontcharova
Michael Vaughn tik tok about reducing mental stress for wife
One Dad's Viral Tips for Reducing Your Partner's Solo Parenting Stress
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Even America’s Comedy King Jack Black Struggles With Parenting Anxiety
Even America’s Comedy King Jack Black Struggles With Parenting Anxiety
By Wyndi Kappes
mom hugging young child
How to Cope With the Emotional Aftermath of Another School Shooting
By The Bump Editors
mother pondering while sitting on bed with baby
What to Know About Postpartum Psychosis
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
mother cuddling newborn baby
8 Things New Parents Can Do for an Easier Postpartum Period
By Elena Donovan Mauer
exhausted mother playing with toddler
Parental Burnout Is Real—Here’s How to Cope
By Marygrace Taylor
mother and baby reading a book on the couch at home
What TikTok’s “Scrunchy Moms” Want You to Know
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
James Van Der Beek attends the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
James Van Der Beek's Viral Parenting Hack for Roadtripping With Six Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding sleeping baby on sofa at home
20 Positive Parenting Affirmations to Boost Your Mental Health
By Nehal Aggarwal
mother holding and comforting baby at home
What Over 70 Percent of Millennial Moms Aren’t Telling You
By Wyndi Kappes
Advertisement
worried mother holding baby while looking out of the window at home
Why Moms Need to Shift Their Perspective on Asking for Help
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
annoyed mother sitting at table with toddler
The Truth About Mom Rage and How to Tame Your Inner Anger
By Lauren Barth
mother looking at her baby with the ocean in the background
Adjusting to Motherhood May Take Longer Than You Think (and That’s OK)
By Kylie McConville
Allyson Felix Opens Up About Her NICU Journey With Daughter Camryn
Allyson Felix Opens Up About Her NICU Journey With Daughter Camryn
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.