A study done by Common Sense Media, as part of its new Program for the Study of Children and Media, highlights how very different our world is today, even for our youngest – children 0 to eight years old. I found myself continually surprised by the data reported in the eSchool News article and report. For instance, 52 percent of children ages 5-8 use smart phones, video iPods, iPads, or similar devices. And, four in 10 2-to 4-year-olds use the same devices. The study compared the time children spend with screen media versus time spent reading. “In a typical day, zero-to 1-year olds spend more than twice as much time watching television and DVDs (53 minutes) as they do reading or being read to (23 minutes).” Wow – children 0 to 1!
Not surprisingly, an “app gap” has developed. “Among lower-income children, 27 percent have a parent with a smart phone, compared to 57 percent for higher-income children. One in 10 lower-income children has a video iPod or similar device in the home, compared to one in three (34 percent) upper-income children. And, just 2 percent of lower-income children have a tablet device such as an iPad at home, compared to 17 percent of higher-income children.” These statistics (and others found in report) re-emphasize the critical role schools play in helping bridge the divide. If low-income children are not getting access to the tools that drive productivity in the world at home, shouldn’t they be able to use such tools at school, in relevant and meaningful ways?
Now, keep in mind that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still holds firm in their recommendation discouraging the use of media for children younger than 2-years old.
The study is dense with interesting and surprising statistics. As a parent and educator, it is essential to understand the context within which we operate and teach. Of course, what’s missing from this specific report is an analysis of the value media adds to learning and growth. What impact does screen time have on children’s development and growth? Now, that’s a larger, more complex question.