In the United States, 99 percent of all households with children have televisions, and half the children have a television in their bedrooms. Among households with eight to eighteen year olds, 85 percent have personal computers and 83 percent have video game consoles. Children ages two to seven watch on average 2.56 hours of television per day and children eight to eighteen watch on average 5.40 hours per day. Technological convergence, a hallmark of media use today, enables youth to access the same source from different, often portable, media platforms. As a result, America's young people spend more time using media than they do engaging in any single activity other than sleeping.
Clearly, the lives of American children are saturated with media. And electronic media is NOT going away. So how does this overwhelming presence of media impact children’s well being? More importantly, what can parents do to exert some control over this media presence in their children’s lives?
In a recent issue of The Future of Children series, Children and Electronic Media, media experts discuss the most current information available concerning children’s media use and its potential impact on children’s development. These analyses highlight several important issues parents may want to consider concerning the current state of media saturation, how this may affect children, and what parents can do about it.
In the first place, the current emphasis on creating “educational” television for infants and toddlers is questionable. Research suggests that, at this young age, children learn much more effectively from real-life examples than they do from video demonstrations. While evidence...