Emotion Regulation and Screen Use among Parents of Toddlers: A Moderating Role of Parental Personality

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Virginia Tech


Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (2016) recommendation to limit screen exposure in the early years, toddlers’ screen use exceeds these guidelines (Rideout & Robb, 2020). Given the significant role of parental media use in children’s exposure to screens (Domoff et al., 2020; Lauricella et al., 2015), it is important to understand the factors that contribute to parental screen use. Digital technologies have been posited as tools for emotion regulation (Wadley et al., 2020), suggesting that parental emotion regulation may serve as a significant determinant of parental media use. Prior studies have shown the association between emotion regulation strategies and different types of screen use, including non-interactive and interactive media (Extremera et al., 2019; Rozgonjuk & Elhai, 2021). It has also been suggested that the role of emotion regulations strategies may differ by personality traits (Gross & John, 2003). However, limited research to date examined these associations with the focus on parents of toddlers. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the association between parents’ emotion regulation strategies on their screen use and the moderating role of personality traits in this association. This study used secondary data collected from an online survey of 296 mothers of children between 18 to 36 months in the United States. Linear regression models were fitted to examine the association between emotion regulation strategies and parental screen use, with a focus on two specific regulation strategies and interactive and non-interactive screen use. They were founded that cognitive reappraisal was not related either non-interactive and interactive screen uses and that expressive suppression was only associated with non-interactive screen use. Cognitive reappraisal was related to agreeableness and expressive suppression was related to extraversion. No moderator roles of agreeableness on the association between cognitive reappraisal and both types of screen use and extraversion on the association between expressive suppression and both types of screen use were found. Future research is needed to test the possible biases resulting from the self-report technique, understand the causation between emotion regulation strategies and screen use, and include the context of screen media for deeper understanding.



emotion regulation, cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, interactive screen use, non-interactive screen use