Do Hours Spent Viewing Television at Ages 3 and 4 Predict Vocabulary and Executive Functioning at Age 5?


We examined the impact of television viewing at ages 3 and 4 on vocabulary and at age 5 on executive functioning in the context of home learning environment and parental scaffolding. Children (N = 263) were seen in the lab when they were 3 years old and then again at ages 4 and 5. Parents completed measures assessing child television viewing and the home environment at ages 3 and 4, and mother–child interaction was observed during a problem-solving task. At age 5, children completed measures of vocabulary and executive functioning. Results indicated that although the amount of television viewing was negatively related to vocabulary and executive functioning, this association was no longer significant once background variables, home learning environment, and parental scaffolding were taken into consideration. Parental scaffolding emerged as a primary predictor of vocabulary above demographic covariates. Implications of the research are discussed in terms of recommendations for parents regarding television viewing by preschool children.