Television viewing is highly prevalent in preschoolers (3–5 years). Because of the adverse health outcomes related to this behavior, it is important to investigate associations and mediators of young children’s television viewing time. This study investigated whether parental rules regarding television viewing time and parental concerns about screen viewing activities mediated the association between parents’ and preschoolers’ television viewing time.
Mediation analyses were performed with the product-of-coefficient test on data derived from the Australian HAPPY study (n = 947) and the Belgian sample of the ToyBox-study (n = 1527). Parents reported their own and their child’s television viewing time, their rules regarding television viewing and concerns about their child’s screen viewing activities.
Parents’ television viewing time was directly associated with preschoolers’ television viewing time and parental rule for television viewing time mediated this association in both samples (14.4% and 8.1% in the Australian and Belgian samples, respectively).
This study is unique in examining the mediating pathway of parental television viewing and a rule limiting TV viewing time and whether this is consistent in different samples. Due to the consistent importance, both parents’ television viewing time and rules should be targeted in interventions to decrease preschoolers’ television viewing time.