Exploring the role of family communication time in the association between family dinner frequency and adolescent psychological distress

Rosa Sze Man WONG, Keith T. S. TUNG, Kristy H. T. CHOW, Abigail R. M. LAW, Frederick K. W. HO, Ko Ling CHAN, Patrick IP

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Although research shows that family dinner is associated with adolescent psychological well-being, it is unclear whether this association still exists when parent-adolescent communication is limited particularly in today’s high-tech society where frequent family meals may not necessarily co-exist with frequent family communication. We therefore examined the relationships among adolescent psychological distress, parent-adolescent dinner frequency, and parent-adolescent communication time using data from 826 parent-adolescent dyads. Adolescents self-reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress in the preceding month using the validated Chinese version of the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21 (DASS-21). Their parents reported the frequency of breakfasts and dinners, duration of daily communication with the adolescent, and other family sociodemographic characteristics. Moderated regression analysis was used to examine associations of adolescent psychological distress with parent-adolescent dinner frequency and parent-adolescent non-conflictual communication time. We found that parent-adolescent non-conflictual communication time was independently and significantly associated with adolescent DASS Depression (β = -1.31, p < 0.001), Anxiety (β = -0.84, p < 0.001), and Stress (β = -1.00, p < 0.001) scores, but parent-adolescent dinner frequency was not. Furthermore, adolescents reported lower levels of depression and stress only when they concurrently engaged in both everyday dinner and regular non-conflictual communication with parents. Findings emphasize the importance of regular dinner and non-conflictual communication with parents for adolescent psychological well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13868-13876
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online dateJan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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