Can Screen Media be Effective Teachers?
As author Malcolm Gladwell has stated, “Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.” Gladwell went even further, saying that the effective use of television as an educational tool needed to capture, focus, and sustain children’s attention. Sesame Street was one of the few children’s television programs to utilize a detailed and extensive educational curriculum, acquired from comprehensive research. The success of this television program has led to more than twenty international co-productions of this program, as well as the creation of hundreds of educational children’s series aired in the U.S. today. In fact, there are now more than a dozen national cable channels devoted exclusively to children’s programming.
However, television is not the only electronic medium available to kids in the U.S. From screen media (television, computers) to mobile technologies (iPods, cell phones), American children increasingly live in environments that enable them to have media as part of their lives during nearly all of their waking hours. According to a 2011 Common Sense Media study of a national sample of over 1,300 parents of 0 to 8 year olds, American children live in homes with unprecedented access to media. Here are some of the key findings: 98% have television in the home (68% with cable)
72% have a computer in the home (68% have high speed Internet access) 52% have access to cell phones at home
42% have TVs in their bedrooms (30% of children were under age two) Children use screen media at very young ages, both as babies sitting on their parents’ laps and as toddlers watching television and videos on their own. But does that mean that they are not constructively learning as they are doing so? I have always believed that television, when viewed selectively and in moderation, can encourage children to discuss, wonder about, and even read...
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