Parents' impressions of inappropriate television content for Hispanic preschool children

Paul Aguilar, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Rates of childhood obesity have increased three-fold in the last 20 years, and experts estimate that well over half of adolescents with a Body Mass Index at or above the 95th percentile become obese adults. These trends are even more pronounced in ethnic minority and lower income populations that are disproportionately impacted by obesity and its complications. It would be appropriate, then, to focus obesity interventions on Hispanic children. Television viewing, especially, has been shown to contribute to obesity by increasing caloric intake and decreasing physical activity. Parent involvement has proven to be a critical component in changing children’s health behaviors. In order to explore parents’ motivations for limiting their children’s television viewing, I qualitatively analyzed data from twenty-five interviews with Houston area Head Start parents. Using Grounded Theory, four main categories of concern emerged from the audio-recorded conversations: developmentally inappropriate content, the influence of television, poor health behaviors/outcomes, and general disapproval with television. Developmentally inappropriate content was the most frequently mentioned category with 119 mentions. This included violence, the most common sub-theme. In all, parents were more concerned with television content that produced proximate consequences such as modeling violent behavior or inappropriate language. Content that encouraged behaviors that led to obesity or other delayed consequences were of less concern to the parents. This suggests that future interventions aimed at encouraging Hispanic parents to reduce their children’s television viewing should draw motivation from parents’ concerns about developmentally inappropriate content, rather than focusing on deleterious health outcomes such as obesity.

Subject Area

Early childhood education|Public health

Recommended Citation

Aguilar, Paul, "Parents' impressions of inappropriate television content for Hispanic preschool children" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462404.