[Reading-For-Healthy-Families] New report on media use and young children

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Wed Mar 16 11:33:40 PDT 2011

We know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under two years old should not be exposed to screen media and children two years and older should be limited to 2 hours per day, but is this a realistic expectation for most children and families?  A new report from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop that examines how young children are using media provides some updated and some new information for this debate.  You can read the report, Always Connected: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children, online at: http://joanganzcooneycenter.org/upload_kits/jgcc_alwaysconnected.pdf

Here are several quotes from the report that got me thinking about this issue in the context of the early literacy information and training we provide for parents and childcare providers.

  *   As adults who work with young children… it is imperative that we understand the realities of children’s live with media. (pg 6)
  *   Media platforms by themselves are neutral; what matters most are the choices made by parents… we need higher-quality educational offerings to promote critical thinking for children and adults in their selection and use of media. (pg 3)
What does the research say about media use and children under age 11?

  *   Today, children ages 8-10 spend about 5.5 hours each day using media, but they’re actually exposed to almost 8 hours of media, because they use multiple media simultaneously.  Most of that time, more than 3.5 hours per day, is spent with television. (pg 16)
  *   Television usage among preschoolers is at an eight-year high, coinciding with the ability to watch TV in new ways… [DVR, on demand, mobile phones, and other handheld devices] (pg 19)
  *   In almost half of homes (48%), TV is on most of the time even when no one is watching it… Background television can disrupt the quantity and quality of parent-child interaction, negatively affecting developmental outcomes that come from parent engagement and social interaction. (pg 20)
  *   …with newer delivery platforms entering homes, media producers are taking a closer look at the idea of transmedia storytelling, or the concept of developing a story across multiple forms of media. (pg 22)
  *   Black, Hispanic, and low-income families [that have access to media] typically consume more media across all platforms.  And yet, because [these] children are less likely to have adult guidance when accessing the Internet, these children spend more time on lower-quality Web sites or activities that won’t help them develop school-based skills. (pg 22)
  *   Every medium, with the exception of print, follows this pattern: Children from families with higher incomes (above $100,000) spend less time with media. (pg 26)
What about print media?

  *   About 1/3 of parents say their children’s media habits have changed since the economy began to sour in 2008, most notably among lower-income families, who report an uptick in reading printed books or magazines and less mobile-phone texting. (pg 7)
  *   It’s important to mention that even in an era of widespread electronic-screen exposure, print remains a constant in children’s media diets, although it varies dramatically by age. About 90% of kids 5 to 9 years old read books most days of the week, and they spend about an hour per day doing so, either reading by themselves or being read to by an adults. (pg 17)
  *   Access to children’s books does vary somewhat by household income. For example, low-income households own an average of 40 children’s books, compared with about 50 in the highest income homes. Newspapers and magazines are also more prevalent in high-income homes. (pg 23)

What does this report recommend?

  *   Guiding parents on providing a balanced media diet. (pg 36)
  *   [Encourage] coviewing... The implication is that actively engaging with an adult, who comments on and questions the content, increases a child’s learning from a show. (pg 37)

Hopefully this report will give you some new information to think about as you develop your opinion on the issue of media use and young children, and helps you when working with your families.

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528
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