A new study suggests that children whose mothers regulate their TV time are likely to be less obese when compared to their peers whose mums do not monitor the same.
Moreover, the amount of time spent by a child engaging in playing video games and watching TV could in turn affect their well-being, especially health factors like the risk of developing emotional issues.
The study was conducted by the Oregon Social Learning Center at Oregon State University in Eugene and looked at more than 213 children aged 5, 7 or 9 years and used data from 112 mothers and 103 fathers. Both the parents and children were interviewed and asked questions. Parents of the kids were asked questions pertaining to their child's well-being, including his/her social networks, participation in sports, self-esteem and emotional issues.
The parents were also asked about their family income, educational level and their body mass index (BMI), which is used to ascertain if a person has a healthy weight in proportion to his/her height. The study collected data between 1998 and 2012.
The researchers found that the mothers who actively monitored and supervised the media usage (TV and video games) by their children, vis-à-vis mothers who did not, had kids who were thinner at seven years, as well as gained less weight over the ensuing years.
"At this point we can say there is an association but we cannot say exactly why," said Stacey Tiberio, the study's lead author from the Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene, to Reuters Health.
Moreover, researchers also reveal that when mothers were less proactive in monitoring the media consumption by their child, then he/she had a more irregular weight pattern during the period when the study was conducted.
Interestingly, when fathers regulated the child's media time there were no changes to the child's weight. This could be due to mothers being the primary nurturing force in the child's life per Tiberio.
"These findings suggest that parental behaviors related to children's media consumption may have long-term effects on children's BMI in middle childhood. They underscore the importance of targeting parental media monitoring in efforts to prevent childhood obesity," wrote the researchers.
The study has been published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on March 17.