As a person trained in the methodology of family science, there is nothing that bothers me more than when the media misinterprets a research article. Researchers know this happens frequently and are often leery of publicizing their work (even interesting work) because of this issue. Case in point—the recent study that was all over the media concerning the amount time parents spent with their children.
- the study examined children ages 3-11 and adolescents ages 12-18
- the outcomes that were assessed in the children included emotional adjustment, academic achievement and behavior
- the authors looked two types of time: (1) accessible time—time in presence of mother, but not engaged in an activity; (2) engaged time—basically any time engaged with the mother in an activity
- the data came from time diaries from one weekday and one weekend day. The authors “created” weekly sums by extrapolating 2 day sums to a full week (they say this is a common practice)
- they also looked at children and adolescents’ time spent with their father (alone) and both parents
- as usual, the study include other structural factors—mothers’ education, family income, family structure (i.e., two-parent, single parent, step-family, etc)
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