• Haifa Alroqi

Student thesis: Phd


In recent years, there has been a rising trend in screen media use among young children. This has led to heated debate over the benefits and hazards of technology use, especially in the first few years of life, which represent a time of rapid language development (Bornstein, 2015; Bradley et al., 1989; Cote & Bornstein, 2005; Huttenlocher, 2002; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000; Rodriguez et al., 2009; Stiles, 2000). The aim of this thesis is to explore screen media use among young children in Saudi Arabia, parents’ roles in mediating their children’s screen media use, and the relationship between screen media exposure and early language development. Three studies were conducted to achieve this aim. The first study (Paper 1/Chapter 2) explored the home screen media environment of 220 Saudi children aged 1 to 3 years, whose primary caregivers completed an online survey. The findings showed that the vast majority of these children had started watching television and using mobile media devices before the age of 2 years. The majority of the children exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics’ screen time recommendation for their age. Results also indicated that screen media use rates among Saudi toddlers are higher than those reported in the U.S. and the UK. The second study (Paper 2/Chapter 3) sought to explore parental beliefs and attitudes regarding young children’s screen media use as well as parental media mediation practices. The study, which was conducted on the same sample in Paper 1, revealed that caregivers’ views of what constitutes the appropriate age to introduce screens and the appropriate amount of daily screen time do not match up with their children’s actual practices. Caregivers were also found to underestimate the amount of time that their children spend with screens and to allow their young children to use screens in an effort to keep them occupied, entertain them, or help them learn languages. Most caregivers said that they believe that screen media use leads family members to spend less time together and that television viewing has a positive impact on children’s language development, while mobile media use has a negative impact. The third study (Paper 3/Chapter 4) investigated the association between the quantity, content, and social context of screen media exposure and the language development of 85 Saudi children aged 1 to 3 years. Weekly event-based diaries and surveys were employed to track children’s screen media use patterns and the social contexts of their screen media use. Children’s language development was assessed using the JISH Arabic Communicative Development Inventory (JACDI; Dashash & Safi, 2014), the official Arabic adaptation of the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI; Fenson et al., 1993). Out of the three screen media viewing parameters (quantity, content, and context), the most significant predictor of expressive and receptive vocabulary in 12- to 16-month-olds was screen media context (as measured by the frequency of children’s interactive joint media engagements). In older children (17- to 36-month-olds), higher levels of screen media quantity (as measured by the amount of time spent viewing screens daily, the prevalence of background TV in the children’s environment, and the onset age of screen media viewing) had the greatest negative impact on children’s expressive vocabulary and utterance length. The findings from this thesis have the potential to inform policy and practice related to children’s screen media use and its association with early language development.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorThea Cameron-Faulkner (Supervisor) & Ludovica Serratrice (Supervisor)


  • media mediation
  • mobile media
  • toddlers
  • receptive vocabulary
  • vocabulary size
  • touchscreens
  • technology
  • screen time
  • language development
  • expressive vocabulary

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