Few activities are more important and widespread in the lives of Canadian children than watching TV (or video). This study explores which types of children are most and least committed, in Canada and her two most populous provinces, plus the main faith communities.
Overall, 42% of children aged one to nine watch an hour of TV or less a day: 8% watch under half an hour, 34% half to one hour. Also, 36% watch two hours, 14% watch three hours, and 9% watch over three hours.
Some of our results confirm our expectations. Most importantly, TV viewing intensity decreases with whole range of measures of the human capital of the family: age of the parent, having a female main parent, education of the parents, frequency of book reading, worship frequency, volunteering in the community, quality of the physical health and sleep of the parent, avoidance of smoking by the parents, and avoidance of communication, planning and drinking problems in the family.
Also, living in a safe neighbourhood, ownership of the dwelling, household and personal income and non-reception of social assistance - dimensions of financial capital, are related to weaker time commitments to TV by children.
Unexpected results include the greater intensity of TV viewing by children whose main parent does not work, by children living outside of Québec, Alberta and British Columbia, and their main metro areas, by North American Indians, and by non-Christians and immigrants.
It is unclear why children who are French Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and of the smaller Christian faiths watch less TV than children of other faiths, as do the children whose main parents are Dutch, French or Irish - these religions and ethnicities are not obviously similar.
Overall, boys are more committed to TV than girls, though the margin of difference is not large: 24% watch three plus hours a day (the extreme viewing rate) compared with 22% of girls.
The extreme rate of boys exceeds that of girls by at least 50% in the Québec and Kitchener metro areas, in Fredericton, among seven year olds, in families where the main parent is employed in transportation and warehousing, and in families in which drinking is a source of tension.
The extreme rate of girls exceeds that of boys by at least 20% in the Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saint John metro areas, and where the mother lives with a step-father, the main parent is of English ethnicity, and whose occupation is in public administration.