In homes of families with young children, television is frequently on, especially when family members spend time together. That the television is on in the background has been found to be associated with negative outcomes in terms of both child development and child-caregiver interactions. In this review study, we examined (1) different definitions and measurement methods of background TV, (2) how widespread background TV use is in homes with children, (3) its relation to families’ socioeconomic status, (4) its relation to the development of skills such as attention, self-regulation, and language, and (5) how it affects child-caregiver interactions that are important for child development. Our findings show that background TV is commonly used in homes with infants and young children, the amount of background TV increases as the family’s educational level decreases, and longer exposure to background TV is negatively associated with children’s attention and self-regulation skills and the quantity and quality of child-caregiver interactions. Longitudinal studies and studies conducted in diverse cultures are needed. We suggest future studies to measure the amount of background TV with the diary method and use certain variables that might be related to child development (e.g., language input, socioeconomic status) as control variables.
Background TV, television, child development, child-caregiver interaction, technology.