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Health & Parenting

Family, Screen Time Tied to Kids’ Success: Study

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Message for Parents

The good news for parents is they can easily make positive changes at home, says Robert Pressman, PhD. He's the director of research at the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology and the study’s lead author. 

Have regular family dinners, for example. They tend to happen at expected times and include conversation and information sharing. Parents can also shift their own habits and parenting styles in response to the study’s findings.

“These are all things that parents can do to make a difference,” Pressman says. “I think it’s going to change everything in terms of how we are going to interact with patients,” he adds. “We have hard data now that we didn’t have before. As a clinician, I know that I will have a greater impact.”

Study Details

Data for the study was gathered over 60 days beginning in September 2013. More than 46,000 parents from 4,500 U.S. cities participated in the study, although fewer than half -- 21,175 -- completed the 108-question survey. Only completed responses were used by the study team. 

In addition to Pressman, the team included researchers from Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, the Children’s National Medical Center and Brandeis University. WebMD was one of the survey sites, along with the Huffington Post, Parents magazine, and the National PTA.

Second Opinion

Sam Goldstein, a Utah-based psychologist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Attention Disorders, says the study should provide parents, educators, and doctors with valuable information. He says some of the data supports other earlier, smaller studies.

Still, Goldstein questions the study’s methods. An incentive was given to the parents to participate. They were entered into a prize drawing for a gift card, and that could have influenced the survey responses, he says. Although he hasn't yet seen whole study, he also questions the large sample size.

Melissa Nemon, a study statistician and a senior research associate at Brandeis University, believes the Learning Habit Study findings will impact not just individuals and families, but also the wider community, where personal accounts about the impacts of parenting styles and screen time have long been part of the conversation.

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