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Children Of Spanish Speaking Moms Watch Less TV According To Research

 

Young children of Hispanic mothers whose dominant language is Spanish 
spend less time in front of the TV than children whose mothers speak 
mostly English, according to research led by investigators at Johns 
Hopkins Children's Center and published in the February issue of 
Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

Although the study was not designed to answer why the children of 
Spanish-speaking mothers watch less TV, the researchers believe it 
might be a reflection of a cultural perception of the value of 
television. Another explanation might be lack of programming targeted 
at young children and toddlers on the main Spanish-language channels 
Telemundo and Univision and minimal Spanish-language content on U.S. channels.

Past studies have compared the TV-viewing habits of white and 
Hispanic youth, but this research is believed to be the first 
analysis of variations within Hispanic households and one that points 
to subtle but important differences in this population, the investigators say.

"Our findings show that what language mom speaks is a greater 
predictor than ethnicity alone of how much time a young child spends 
in front of the TV, a nuance that public health experts should 
recognize if they are to succeed in reducing TV time among these 
children," says lead investigator Darcy Thompson, M.D. M.P.H., a 
pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center..

Better understanding of the cultural, language and socioeconomic 
variations within the Hispanic community can help public health 
experts design more targeted public health campaigns, Thompson says.

Reducing TV time became a public health priority when recent studies 
found that the more time a child spends watching TV, the more likely 
she is to develop sleep disturbances, attention problems and obesity. 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two 
hours a day of cumulative exposure from TV and other media, including 
movies, Internet, video and computer games. Hispanic children, who 
make up one-fifth of all children in the United States, have the 
highest obesity and overweight rates among preschoolers of all ethnic groups.

Surveying 1,332 Hispanic and white mothers and their children, ages 4 
months to 3 years, the researchers found that on average, children of 
English-speaking Hispanic moms spent nearly two-and-a-half hours 
watching TV, compared to about 90 minutes for children with 
Spanish-speaking mothers. The difference was especially pronounced in 
children older than 1, with those in English-speaking Hispanic homes 
spending nearly 60 percent more time watching. The difference 
disappeared when researchers compared TV viewing hours among those 
younger than 1.

When researchers combined children of Hispanic mothers with either 
language preference and compared them to the children of white 
mothers, they found that both groups spent on average about two hours 
watching TV. But differences started to emerge when the researchers 
compared these groups separately. One-to-two-year-olds with 
English-speaking Hispanic mothers spent nearly 60 percent more time 
watching TV than the children of white mothers. By ages 2 and 3, 
children of white mothers appeared to catch up to children of 
English-speaking Hispanic mothers, while children of Spanish-speaking 
mothers spent 30 percent less time watching TV.

Co-investigators on the paper include Erica Sibinga, M.D., M.H.S.; 
Jacky Jennings, Ph.D., M.P.H; Megan Bair-Merritt, M.D., M.S.C.E., all 
of Johns Hopkins; and Dimitri Christakis, M.D., M.P.H., of the 
University of Washington.

The research was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 
and by the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and 
Human Development.
Related on the Web:

Hispanic Children Rarely Get Top-Notch Care For Brain Tumors
http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Hispanic-Children-Rarely-Get-Top-Notch-Care-For-Brain-Tumors.aspx

Child Obesity Seen As Fueled By Spanish Language TV Ads
http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Child-Obesity-Spanish-TV.aspx

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/

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