Objective Background television (TV) exposure is harmful to young children, yet few studies have focused on predictors of exposure. This study’s objectives were to elucidate demographic, environmental, and behavioral correlates of background TV exposure in low-income Mexican–American preschoolers and to explore caregiver beliefs about the impact of such exposure. Methods A convenience sample of low-income Mexican–American female primary caregivers of preschoolers (3–5 years old, n = 309), recruited in safety-net clinics, were surveyed by phone. Caregivers reported the frequency of their child’s exposure to background TV and responded to questions on the home media environment, TV use, and whether they had thought about background TV exposure and its impact on their child. Results Background TV exposure was common; 43 % reported that their child was often, very often, or always exposed to background TV. More hours of TV viewing by the caregiver and greater frequency of TV viewing during meals were associated with an increased frequency of exposure to background TV. Only 49 % of participants had ever thought about the impact of background TV. Believing that background TV is not harmful was associated with higher levels of background TV exposure. Conclusions Findings suggest that background TV exposure is frequent and caregiver awareness of its potential impact is low in low-income Mexican–American families. Beliefs that background TV is not harmful may predict risk of exposure. Potential targets for interventions focused on reducing background TV exposure in this population include increasing caregiver awareness of the potential negative impact of such TV exposure.
- Background television
- Home environment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health