BACKGROUND: Children's activity level, including physical activity (PA) and screen sedentary time (SST), is influenced by environmental factors in which parents play a critical role. Different types of parenting styles may influence children's activity level. Inconsistent results were found on the association between parenting styles and PA, and few studies tested the association between parenting styles and SST. This study examined the association between parenting styles, PA and SST and the modifying effect of children's gender and maternal educational level on these associations.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data were collected from parents of children aged 8-11 years old who completed a web-based non-standardized questionnaire (N = 4047). Since 85% of the questionnaires were filled in by mothers, parenting styles are mainly reported by mothers. Multiple linear regression techniques were used to assess the associations between parenting styles (authoritative, permissive, authoritarian and neglectful), and PA and SST (mean min/day). The modifying effect of children's gender and maternal educational level on these associations was explored. P values ≤.0125 were considered as statistically significant based on the Bonferroni correction for four primary analyses.
RESULTS: The neglectful parenting style was most widely used (35.3%), while the authoritarian style was least common (14.8%). No significant association was found between parenting styles and PA level. As regards SST, an authoritative parenting style was significantly associated with lower SST in boys while a neglectful parenting style was significantly associated with higher SST in both boys and girls. When the mother had a medium educational level, an authoritative parenting style was significantly associated with lower SST while neglectful parenting was significantly associated with higher SST.
CONCLUSIONS: No association was found between parenting styles and PA. However, an authoritative parenting style was associated with a reduction in SST and a neglectful parenting style with an increase in SST, especially in boys and in children whose mother had a medium education level. Future studies of parenting practices are needed to gain more insight into the role of parents in children's PA and SST levels, as a basis for the development of interventions tailored to support parents in stimulating PA and reducing SST in children.
- Journal Article