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Parents are often regarded as one of the significant social agents who are important to the participation of physical activity (PA) among children and adolescents. However, within the literature, the relationships between parental influences and child and adolescent PA have been inconclusive and discordant. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to quantify and synthesize the associations between parental social influences (positive parental influence, punishment, and discouragement) and the PA level of children and adolescents. Through a systematic literature search using PsycINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, ProQuest, and SPORTDiscus databases, we identified 112 eligible studies and subsequently extracted 741 effect sizes for our analysis. Multilevel meta-analysis showed that the corrected zero-order correlation of positive parental influence was positive and statistically significant, r = 0.202, SE = 0.014, t = 14.975, p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval (CI) = [0.176, 0.228]. Further moderation analysis also found that this was significantly moderated by parental gender (maternal vs. paternal), respondent of influence measure (parent-reported vs. child-reported), and type of PA measure (subjective vs. objective). The corrected zero-order correlations of negative parental influences (i.e., punishment and discouragement) were not statistically significant, and no significant moderation effects were observed. The findings of our meta-analysis showed that children and adolescents had higher PA levels when their parents supported PA participation by exerting positive social influence. Punishment and discouragement against PA by parents did not appear to be significantly associated with the PA level of children and adolescents. The findings of negative parental social influence were mixed and required further investigations.

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