Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

Associations of screen time and child language

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
University of Auckland
Lead Researcher:
Claire Reid nee Agmen-Smith
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Family and Whanau
Secondary Classification:

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis has shown that greater quantity of child screen use (hours per use) is associated with lower child language skills (Madigan, 2020). However, the quality of existing literature is mixed, with a need for more longitudinal research, and study designs that adequately control for covariables (such as socio-economic hardship) that are associatied with both screen use and language development. Moreover, the quality of parent-child verbal interaction may be both a covariate (that is rarely considered) and/or a potential mediating mechanism that may partially explain any relationship between child screen time use and language skill. Higher quality verbal interactions with parents may also buffer any associations of earlier screen time with later language skill (moderation). Finally, much of the research examining screen time use and child language development has focused on preschoolers (including within the Growing Up in New Zealand study (Corkin et al, 2020 and Corkin et al. 2021), with far less known about how screen time and language skill might be associated in older children.

Research Objectives
1. Are screen time and child language associated during middle childhood?
2. Using measures of both screen time and child language at age 4 1/2 and 8 years, is earlier screen time a unique predictor of later child language?
2. Does parent elaboration (open-ended questions, providing new information, confirming child's responses) mediate or moderate the relationship between screen time and child language?

Objective 1. Linear regression analyses will examine associations between 8 year screen time and child language (NHI toolbox, receptive language) controlling for a range of potential covariates (e.g., ethnicity, area deprivation, rurality, bilingualism).
Objective  2. Regression analyses will control for covariates as well as earlier screen time / child language predicting later child language / screen time.
Objective  3. H