Fact File on Media Influences and Technology
Below is a summary of research describing the benefits and disadvantages of exposing children to TV and computers both at home and in the classroom.
- The average American child spends more time watching television than pursuing any other activity, except sleeping (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). On average, he or she spends 5.5 hours a day engaged with various print and electronic media (ALS Associates, 1999).
- A national survey of 1,407 teachers found that 97 percent used a computer at home or at school for professional activities, yet only 29 percent had more than 5 hours of technology training related to curriculum within the past year (Education Week and Milken Exchange on Educational Technology, 1999).
- Research on the "digital divide," which refers to differences in computer access based on income level, found that 15 percent of households with annual incomes of $15,000 or less own computers, while 86 percent of households with incomes of $75,000 or more own computers. Although the national ratio is 1 computer for every 4.9 students, 61 percent of students report that they have better computers at home than at school (Education Week, 2001).
- Teachers tend to use drill-and-practice software with low-achieving students and more interactive programs with high-achieving students, a situation described as "covert racism" by Herbert Kohl (Education Week, 2001).
- In a review of four major journals with the highest citation rates for literacy research, only 1 to 5 percent of the articles dealt with technology issues (Holum & Gahala, 2001, p. 3).
- A position statement and review of the research conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 1996b) concluded that computers should supplement rather than replace highly valued early childhood activities such as art, books, sand, water, blocks, dramatic play, and exploration with writing materials.
- Companies market computer software for children as young as 18 months of age. Four of the ten best-selling CD-ROM titles are intended for children beginning at age 3. In one study, among parents with children under the age of 6 who had home computers, 62 percent had purchased software for their children to use (Trotter, 1996).
- A British study considered the use of technology in furthering the communication skills of 52 children ages 4 to 10 who had severe language difficulties. Providing computer training 60 minutes per week for 10 weeks was significantly more effective than the regular classroom language curriculum (Schery & O'Connor, 1997).
- In a national survey of U.S. children and parents (Galinsky, 1999), 56 percent of parents believed their children wanted to spend more time with them, but only 10 percent of the children wanted more time with Mom and only 15.5 percent wanted more time with Dad. Interestingly, 23 percent of the children wanted their parents to earn more money, although only 14 percent of the parents realized this.
- A report by the NAEYC (1994) concluded that there has been a steady increase in the amount and severity of violent acts that young children experience through the media—television, advertising, movies, computer games, videos, toys, and so forth.
- By the time the average child has completed elementary school, he or she has seen more than 100,000 acts of violence on TV; including 8,000 murders (Center for Media Education, 2001).
- During prime-time television viewing, children see about 5 violent acts per hour. For Saturday morning children's programs, the average is actually much higher—about 26 violent acts per hour (Center for Media Education, 2001).
- Lorch et al. (2000) found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comprehended factual details from televised stories as well as children without ADHD but were less successful in understanding and recalling some causal relationships among events in the stories (McInnes, Humphries, Hogg-Johnson, & Tannock, 2003, p. 428).
- Studies of computer use in classrooms suggest that it is motivating and engaging for most children (Baron, 2005). Moreover, when used effectively, it can help keep children with learning disabilities to stay on task (Spooner, 2004; Stephen & Plowman, 2003).
- Brief but consistent computer-based reading lessons that supplement rather than replace conventional reading instruction can enhance reading achievement (Holum & Gahala, 2001; MacGregor, 2004).
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