OBJECTIVE: Violent media exposure has been associated with aggressive behavior, and it has been suggested that child health professionals counsel families on limiting exposure. Effective violence prevention counseling requires an understanding of norms regarding parental attitudes, practices, and influencing factors. Both theories of reasoned action and planned behavior emphasize that subjective norms and attitudes affect people's perceptions and intended behavior. Few data exist on violent television viewing and monitoring from a cross-section of families. By understanding the spectrum of parental attitudes, community-sensitive interventions for violence prevention can be developed. The objective of this study was to assess attitudes about and monitoring of violent television viewing from the perspective of parents. METHODS: An anonymous self-report assisted survey was administered to a convenience sample of parents/guardians who visited child health providers at 3 sites: an urban children's hospital clinic, an urban managed care clinic, and a suburban private practice. The parent questionnaire included questions on child-rearing attitudes and practices and sociodemographic information. RESULTS: A total of 1004 adults who accompanied children for health visits were recruited for the study; 922 surveys were completed (participation rate: 92%). A total of 830 (90%) respondents were parents and had complete child data. Of the 830 respondents, 677 had questions on television viewing included in the survey and were the focus of this analysis. Seventy-five percent of families reported that their youngest child watched television. Of these, 53% reported always limiting violent television viewing, although 73% believed that their children viewed television violence at least 1 time a week. Among television viewers, 81% reported usually or always limiting viewing of sexual content on television and 45% reported usually or always watching television with their youngest child. Among children who watched television, parents reported that they spent an average of 2.6 hours per day watching television. Limitation of television violence was associated with female parents and younger children. CONCLUSIONS: There was variability in attitudes and practices regarding television violence viewing and monitoring among parents. Attitudes and practices varied on the basis of the age of the child and the gender of the parent.
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