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Child Care Health Dev. 2009 Nov;35(6):773-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.01009.x. Epub 2009 Sep 4.

Do parental co-viewing and discussions mitigate TV-induced fears in young children?

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  • 1National Institute for Health and Welfare, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Helsinki, Finland.



While excessive television viewing has been associated with negative outcomes in children's welfare, parental co-viewing has been suggested as an effective way to prevent these negative effects. The objective of the present study is to specify some social contexts of co-viewing and to assess whether co-viewing modifies the effects of media on children's TV-related fears.


The study is based on a representative random sample of 331 children aged 5-6 years. It is based on parental reports of children's TV-related fears and family television viewing practices.


Parental co-viewing and discussion of television programmes with the child were found to be associated with higher rates of children's TV-related fears, high television exposure in general and watching adults' television programmes. The association between TV-related fears and co-viewing remained significant even after controlling for gender, maternal education, family income and the quantity and quality of television viewing. Co-viewing and TV-related discussions increased the risk for TV-related fears nearly fourfold (adjusted odds ratio 3.92, 95% confidence interval 1.37-11.17 and adjusted odds ratio 3.31, 95% confidence interval 1.33-8.20, respectively).


The findings suggest that co-viewing and discussing television programmes are more common in families where television exposure is high. Because both co-viewing and discussing television programmes were associated with higher fear scores regardless of the quantity and quality of television exposure, the research shows that in everyday life co-viewing may not be done in such a way that it leads to a reduction of children's fears. More studies are needed to explore the co-viewing practices of families in more detail.

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