Objective: Family meals are important to adolescent health, but relatively little is known about TV viewing during family meals. The present paper examines the role that TV viewing during family meals may have on substance use behaviors among adolescents. Methods: A diverse sample of 806 Minnesota high school students (mean age 17.2 years) provided survey data in 2003-2004 regarding family meal frequency, substance use behavior and general family connectedness. General linear modeling was used to compare substance use across three family meal/TV categories in a cross-sectional analysis. Results: 28.6% of participants ate regular family meals without TV, and 27.5% had regular family meals while watching TV. Significant differences in cigarette smoking, alcohol and marijuana use were found for females reporting regular family meals versus no regular family meals, but did not differ significantly by TV viewing. No significant differences were found across groups of males. Conclusions: Results from this study indicate that TV viewing during family meals does not appear to attenuate the previously observed protective relationship between family meals and substance use for females. Benefits of family meals may be derived simply from having adolescents at home during mealtimes.
- Family meals
- Substance use