We examined the frequency of adolescents' use of electronic media (ie, television/movie watching, text messaging, talking on the telephone, listening to music with headphones, and playing with hand-held games) at family meals and examined associations with demographic characteristics, rules about media use, family characteristics, and the types of foods served at meals using an observational, cross-sectional design. Data were drawn from two coordinated, population-based studies of adolescents (Project Eating Among Teens 2010) and their parents (Project Families and Eating Among Teens). Surveys were completed during 2009-2010. Frequent television/movie watching during family meals by youth was reported by 25.5% of parents. Multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated significantly higher odds of mealtime media use (P<0.05) for girls and older teens. In addition, higher odds of mealtime media use (P<0.05) were also seen among those whose parents had low education levels or were black or Asian; having parental rules about media use significantly reduced these odds. Frequent mealtime media use was significantly associated with lower scores on family communication (P<0.05) and scores indicating less importance placed on mealtimes (P<0.001). Furthermore, frequent mealtime media use was associated with lower odds of serving green salad, fruit, vegetables, 100% juice, and milk at meals, whereas higher odds were seen for serving sugar-sweetened beverages (P<0.05). The ubiquitous use of mealtime media by adolescents and differences by sex, race/ethnicity, age, and parental rules suggest that supporting parents in their efforts to initiate and follow-through on setting mealtime media use rules may be an important public health strategy.
- Family meals
- Healthful foods