Media use and screen time show both positive and negative effects on child development. Parents’ behaviors, perceptions, and regulation of parent and child screen-based device (SBD) use may be critical understudied factors in explaining these mixed effects.
We developed the Parent Screen-Based Device Use Survey (PSUS) to assess parental use of multiple SBDs (e.g., computers, phones, and TVs) and tested its factor structure across two United States samples of mothers of children aged 2–6 years (total N = 402). Subscales captured parental SBD use related to Discipline, Limit-Setting, Involvement, Child Care, Family Norms, Self-Regulation, Dysregulation, and Parenting Support, and showed good factor loadings and internal reliability. Validity was tested in relation to parent distress, parent executive function problems, and child behavior problems.
Parental limit-setting and involvement were either unrelated to or related to fewer parent and child problems, whereas parental use of SBDs for self-regulation, child care, discipline, support, and family activities, as well as parents’ more dysregulated use, were related to more parent and child problems.
The PSUS holds promise in addressing the parental mechanisms that underlie media effects on child development.