Data: We draw on data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal birth cohort study of children born in 20 medium- to large-US cities. FFCWS includes (N = 4,898) an oversample of non-marital births and is disproportionately disadvantaged as a result. The FFCWS includes a unique set of questions related to the maternal employment including those related to non-standard work hours, television habits of children at age 9, maternal relationship status (married or cohabiting) and availability of childcare support.
Analytic approach: The present study examines the associations between maternal non-standard work and television viewing among children at age 9, with a particular focus on mothers' night and evening shift work. We also examine the impact of mother’s relationship status and availability of childcare during an emergency on children’s television viewing habits. We estimate OLS regressions to test the association between maternal non-standard work hours and each outcome. We include a robust set of socio-demographic controls such as mother’s education, race, household income, and city fixed effects.
Results: Findings from preliminary analyses suggest that maternal non-standard work hours is associated with greater television viewing among children. The amount of time a child spends watching television or videos on a weekday was found to be significantly associated with mother’s working an evening shift (p < 0.02). The number of hours the TV was on was also significantly associated with mothers’ working an evening shift (p < 0.001). Also, the number of hours the TV was on was significantly associated with mothers’ working a night shift (p < 0.02). The child watched more TV if emergency childcare was not available, and mother worked in the evening (p<0.03). Lastly, mother’s relationship status did not moderate the association between television viewing and mothers working either a night or evening shift.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings from this study showed that maternal non-standard work hours affected television viewing among children from disadvantaged families. As watching television for long hours has been linked to negative health and psychological consequences for children, findings of this study have implications for promoting and advocating for policies and guidelines for extended childcare support to mothers who work during nonstandard hours.