Parental executive functions and motivations unveil variations in young children's screen media use

Paulo Guirro Laurence, Matheus de Melo Rodrigues, Maria Carolina Brito Locatti Tannus, Elisa Macedo Dekaney, Elizeu Coutinho Macedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The increased screen media use among children aged 3 to 5, particularly in the post-COVID era, is concerning. Despite several organizations' recommendation of a one-hour screen limit for young children, actual usage often exceeds this guideline. Objective: This study explored the influence of parental characteristics such as self-efficacy, motivation, socioeconomic status, and cognitive abilities on children's screen time habits. Methods: Employing a feature selection model, 251 caregivers answered an online survey, presenting data from themselves and on-screen usage for 126 girls and 125 boys. We found that the caregiver’s executive functions, including cognitive flexibility, initiation, task monitoring, and material organization, significantly impact children’s screen time. Results: Our analysis highlighted the vital role of caregivers’ self-efficacy in moderating children's screen usage. Family net income, children's age and gender, and motivations related to children's desires and behavioral control were also significant contributors to usage patterns. Conclusion: This study offers insights into interventions and effective parenting strategies in the digital age, highlighting the importance of addressing socio-demographic factors in understanding this complex issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalPsicologia: Reflexao e Critica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Cognitive abilities
  • Motivations for media use
  • Parental motivations
  • Screen media usage
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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