Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

“Just give me some space” The effect of income, parental stress and children’s screen use on child behaviour

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
Victoria University of Wellington
Lead Researcher:
Jaimie Monk, Arthur Grimes, Jacqui Southey, Kate Prickett, Kristie Carter, Penny Gault, Philip Morrison
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Psych and Cog
Secondary Classification:

New Zealand children grow up in a wide variety of environments, all of which shape their development in different ways. Children growing up free from the stress of poverty have consistently superior developmental outcomes than those who do not.

This study will seek to understand how stress may affect parenting practices that lead to developmental differences in child socio-emotional development. It seeks to answer three key questions:

1. What is the persistent effect of household income on child socio-emotional development?

2. What roles do mother’s stress and children’s screen use play in the above relationship?

3. How does household income, parental stress and child screen use affect the child as they see themselves?

This project will build on the findings from the principal researcher’s PhD research. Initial results from this work show:

- Mothers who feel their income meets their household’s needs have two year old children with fewer behavioural problems.

- Having income meet household needs causes lower maternal stress and less screen use for children.

- Lower maternal stress causes less screen use for children.

- Greater screen use increases difficulties scores in two year olds.  

To help target any potential effective and timely policy interventions, this project will seek to build on these results from two year olds to see if the effects stay constant, compound or diminish as the children get older.