Effects of Social Context on Correlation between Media Usage and Some Aspects of Children Development

Tena Velki, Ivana Duvnjak

Abstract


The aim of the study was to verify the relationship between the frequency of using different media (watching TV, playing computer games and browsing the Internet) with aspects of cognitive (academic achievement) and social-emotional development (impulsiveness, affective empathy, the number of friends and peer acceptance). The present study also investigated the moderating effects of the parental and peers presence on these relationships. Students from fifth to eighth grade (N=880) completed the questionnaires about the impulsiveness, affective empathy and exposure to media. Students also gave information about the number of best friends, feeling of peer acceptance and academic achievement.  The results show low correlations between the frequency of using different media and aspects of cognitive and social-emotional development. Negative correlations with affective empathy, especially time spent playing computer games, and positive correlations with impulsivity, especially with Internet use, are most prominent. Correlations between the frequency of using media and number of friends and peer acceptance are somewhat weaker, while there is a mild negative correlation between time spent watching television and academic achievement.  The moderating effects of the social context on the correlation of the frequency of media use and aspects of development have been tested. The results show very small effects and they are mainly related to the relationship between watching television and academic achievement, and the frequency of playing computer games and relationship with peers. There is a negative correlation between time spent watching TV and academic achievement, but only for those children who do so in the company (parents and friends) while for those who are watching TV alone the correlation doesn't significantly differ from zero. Likewise, the obtained positive correlation between the time spent playing computer games and the number of friends is somewhat smaller for those who do it in the company of friends and there are slightly positive effects of the frequency of playing computer games on peer acceptance for those who play alone, while the mildly negative effects are obtained for those who play with parents. All the effects of the social context and the use of media on the aspects of child development are of very low intensity and they are interpreted in accordance with the Differential Susceptibility to Media effects Model (DSMM; Valkenburg & Peter, 2013).

Keywords


media; parental presence; peers; social-emotional development; cognitive development

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