Friday, March 04, 2005

Television Media and Computers offer Children Pluses and Minuses

Some interesting research from the National Science Foundation:
US NSF News"A consortium of researchers has reported that very young children’s interactions with TV and computers are a mixed bag of opportunities and cautions, while teenagers’ Internet use has changed so much that the myths of several years ago need to be debunked.

Said Amy Sussman, program manager for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds the five-site Children’s Digital Media Center (CDMC), "Reaping the benefits of various media while avoiding pitfalls is no easy task. Parents and policymakers need to inform their decisions about whether and how to guide their children’s media use through scientific knowledge. Different developmental stages call for different strategies. These and other research studies can help create needed guidance for children at all ages."

"Several individual studies support the 1999 recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents do not expose children to electronic screens until they are 2 years old.

One important distinction is between “background TV” and “foreground TV” – that is, TV programs that are playing when young children are around (for example, because the TV is always on in the house) or TV programs designed for young children (for example, Teletubbies). Over a third of the households with children from birth to 6 years old had the TV on most or all of the time, in a study reported by Vandewater and colleagues. Children in these "heavy-television households" watched TV more and read less than other children. In addition, research summarized by Daniel R. Anderson and Tiffany A. Pempek indicates very little evidence that children younger than 2 years old learn much from even so-called "educational" programs and videos, and, furthermore, that background TV may be associated with poorer cognitive outcomes."

What happens when children become teenagers?

"Research findings reveal that teens’ Internet use focuses on identity, sexuality, social attitudes, and values – issues perennially associated with the teenage years. Online dangers include pervasive pornography and other sexually explicit material, disembodied strangers who may pursue others or express hate and racism, and rampant commercialism. However, teenagers also find information they may be hesitant to seek elsewhere, good communication channels with their friends, and advice and support."
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