Young children spend about two hours each day using screen-based media, about half of which is spent on educational media, according to their parents. Many studies report that children can learn a range of skills from well-designed educational media. Yet we know relatively little about whether and how well children are able to apply skills they’ve learned from digital media in the real world. This question is particularly important for subjects that involve learning about the physical world, like science. There is a small amount of evidence that children can learn science from media. At the same time, digital media differ from the real world in ways that may be challenging for children to reconcile: digital science media are two-dimensional, are often cartoon-like or anthropomorphized, and frequently focus on refuting misconceptions rather than teaching science facts. Yet there may be ways to design science media to support children in connecting their learning to the real world. A recent study conducted by Education Development Center (EDC) and SRI Education found that four- to five-year-old children can apply science skills that they learned from digital media in the real world. The study was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To Learn initiative, led by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
“Apps as Learning Tools: A Systematic Review”1 is a timely look, from a developmental and educational perspective, at the mobile device apps that even young children are using today. This review is as important to us in observing what we do not know as what we do.
In a year when we are celebrating 50 years of Sesame Street as an iconic, genre-defining educational television program, we need to be reminded of just how revolutionary it was and continues to be (and how it has set the gold standard for educational media). Sesame Street dramatically changed early childhood education not only because it made preschool learning available to everyone who had a television but also because it used the unique access and attraction of television to teach in theoretically based, research-proven ways. The genius of Sesame Street is simple: education scholars conducted formative research to design programming that was pedagogically sound, and once the shows were made and shown, they conducted summative research to evaluate how effectively the programming met intended goals.2 The success of Sesame Street drew imitators, some of which were good, but most of which simply aimed to cash in on the fact that parents would encourage their children to watch a television program that was labeled educational, whether there was any research supporting that claim or not. Although there is still no requirement that educational claims made about children’s media be backed by research, concerned consumers supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics motivated a reality check in 2009, forcing a recall and refund of Baby Einstein videos.3,4
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• We estimate that the global kids digital advertising market will continue to grow in excess of 20% p.a. (2018-21). We estimate the market will be worth c.$1.7bn by 2021
• As kids’ media and content is increasingly consumed via desktop, mobile and tablet devices, we expect brands to move more advertising spend onto these digital platforms, and shift spend away from traditional (non-digital) channels
• Additionally, increasing regulatory requirements and awareness of the benefits of compliance support a shift in spend towards dedicated ‘kidtech’ players
In 2017, PwC released the ground-breaking Kids Digital Media Report, which estimated that the value of the global kids digital advertising market would hit $1.2bn by 2021. They have just released their latest report with updated data and trends. It’s a compelling read.
A staggering 170,000 children go online for the first time every day, driving considerable disruption across the media landscape. As children become a larger percentage of the daily internet audience, laws to protect them are expected to be passed with greater urgency. These increasing regulatory requirements support a shift in spend towards dedicated kidtech players, who provide privacy-centric solutions to the industry.
Today, in conjunction with a major new study that details a host of concerning practices in apps targeted to young children, CCFC and 21 other consumer and public health advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate the preschool app market.
he following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety in any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.
In a world where children are “growing up digital,” it’s important to help them learn healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Parents play an important role in teaching these skills. Here are a few tips from the AAP to help families manage the ever-changing digital landscape.
- Make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime and sleep. Make your plan at HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan.
In the children’s gaming app Doctor Kids, a popular purchase in the Google and Amazon app stores, kids get to play doctor in a children’s hospital. They clean patients’ teeth as a dentist, straighten crooked bones inside an X-ray scan, and play optometrist by helping kids with blurry vision find the right prescription glasses, all against a backdrop of brightly colored characters and a twinkling soundtrack.
Until suddenly, the game is interrupted. A bubble pops up with a new mini game idea, and when a child clicks on the bubble, they are invited to purchase it for $1.99, or unlock all new games for $3.99. There’s a red X button to cancel the pop-up, but if the child clicks on it, the character on the screen shakes its head, looks sad, and even begins to cry.
Today’s children and adolescents are immersed in both traditional and new forms of digital media. Research on traditional media, such as television, has identified health concerns and negative outcomes that correlate with the duration and content of viewing. Over the past decade, the use of digital media, including interactive and social media, has grown, and research evidence suggests that these newer media offer both benefits and risks to the health of children and teenagers. Evidence-based benefits identified from the use of digital and social media include early learning, exposure to new ideas and knowledge, increased opportunities for social contact and support, and new opportunities to access health promotion messages and information. Risks of such media include negative health effects on sleep, attention, and learning; a higher incidence of obesity and depression; exposure to inaccurate, inappropriate, or unsafe content and contacts; and compromised privacy and confidentiality. This technical report reviews the literature regarding these opportunities and risks, framed around clinical questions, for children from birth to adulthood. To promote health and wellness in children and adolescents, it is important to maintain adequate physical activity, healthy nutrition, good sleep hygiene, and a nurturing social environment. A healthy Family Media Use Plan (www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan) that is individualized for a specific child, teenager, or family can identify an appropriate balance between screen time/online time and other activities, set boundaries for accessing content, guide displays of personal information, encourage age-appropriate critical thinking and digital literacy, and support open family communication and implementation of consistent rules about media use.
Read the full paper online at: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162593