Maternal Use of Media to Regulate Child Distress: A Double-Edged Sword? Longitudinal Links to Toddlers' Negative Emotionality

Avigail Gordon-Hacker, Noa Gueron-Sela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not to heavily rely on screen media devices to regulate children's distress, many parents often resort to this regulatory strategy. However, little is known about the long-term implications of using this strategy for children's emotional functioning. To address this issue, this study examined the longitudinal links between the use of media to regulate distress and children's negative emotionality (NE) during toddlerhood, a period in which children strongly rely on external regulation. We also examined whether children with initially high NE were more sensitive to the effects of this regulatory strategy on subsequent NE. Participants were 207 mothers who completed questionnaires assessing child NE, use of media to regulate distress, child screen time, and demographic covariates at 2 time points: 18 months (T1) and 26 months (T2) of children's age. Use of media to regulate child distress at T1 did not directly predict child NE at T2, and vice versa. However, there was a significant interaction between child NE and use of media to regulate distress at T1 in predicting NE at T2. Simple slopes analysis indicated that maternal use of media to regulate distress was positively related to increases in children's NE, but only for children with initially low NE, and not for children with initially high NE. Our findings can inform family-based prevention initiatives that may be delivered in community pediatric settings, aiming at promoting thoughtful use of media in young children's everyday lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-405
Number of pages6
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • differential susceptibility
  • early childhood
  • media use
  • negative emotionality
  • technoference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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