Screen-related discord and dismay in low-income Mexican American families with toddlers: A qualitative study

Published:November 14, 2022DOI:


      • Little is known about screen-related discord in low-income Mexican American families.
      • Findings offer insight into the types of screen-related discord parents experience.
      • Parent-child discord stems in part from parental limit setting.
      • Parent-partner discord reflects disagreement between partners about screen use.
      • Parents experience feelings of ambivalence and dismay about screen use.



      Understanding parental experiences with managing their toddler's screen use is important to inform the design of interventions addressing early childhood screen use, yet current evidence is limited. To enhance our understanding of the context of toddler screen use, this study characterizes the screen-related discord and dismay parents experience in families with toddlers.

      Design and methods

      In-depth interviews were conducted to explore everyday experiences with screen use among low-income Mexican American caregivers of toddlers (21 mothers, 10 fathers, 1 grandmother). Transcripts were content analyzed to identify prominent themes.


      Three themes were identified. Experiences of screen-related discord and dismay arose (1) between parent and child, (2) between parents, and (3) surfaced as parental internal dissonance about toddler screen use. Parent-child discord resulted from parental limit setting and child reactions to parental screen use, which often included tantrums. Parent-partner discord included patterns of agreeing to disagree and direct disagreement between partners. Parents also reported their own feelings of ambivalence and dismay as they struggled to reconcile their preferences against their toddler's actual screen use, while living in a screen-saturated world.


      Findings offer insight into types of screen-related discord and dismay low-income Mexican American parents experience as they attempt to manage their toddler's screen use.

      Practice implications

      Although discord in families is normal, the screen-specific discord reported by participants warrants consideration in efforts promoting healthy screen use in families. Providers can tailor their counseling to consider the range of screen-related discord families of toddlers may experience.


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