Extending the global dialogue about media, technology, screen time, and young children

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From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 3)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,888 words
Lexile Measure: 1460L

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Questions about the potential benefits and dangers of media and technology use abound, with competing theories regarding its effects among young children. This article explores global perspectives on children's exposure to media, technology, and screen time (MeTS) in the schools, homes, and communities of an increasingly technology-driven world. The authors take a critically reflective approach by presenting competing narratives about the relationship of MeTS to the teaching, learning, and development of young children from around the world. The objective is to stimulate dialogue and create awareness about this issue in order to mobilize local decisions about MeTS. Given the undeniable exposure of young children to media and technology in their daily lives, this article recommends careful consideration and understanding of the potential benefits and concerns related to MeTS as educators guide children toward the positive aspects of technology and media use.

Given all of the potential issues that revolve around educating children in the new millennium, few topics change as quickly and elicit as strong an emotional response as a consideration of the role and influence of media, technology, and screen time (MeTS) on young children. There is no shortage of information about how children can be engaged with MeTS, what MeTS to use, and to a lesser degree the potential benefits or harms of MeTS. A Google search uncovers 1.5 billion resources and a more formal academic database search identifies over 41,000 sources. What tends to be missing from this literature is a global discussion or consideration of issues and trends related to MeTS in children's schools, homes, and communities. Therefore, the authors sought to explore more global perspectives of MeTS by talking to and soliciting information from early childhood leaders working in Canada, India, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States of America.


Technology surrounds us, and the technology industry is targeting the youngest members of society more and more. A quick search of the Apple app store finds over 5,000 apps targeting toddlers and over 1,000 apps that target newborns. Young children's media usage ranges from watching television to playing video games, reading electronic books, listening to music, and pursuing other computer-oriented uses. Television is ubiquitous; Vandewater et al. (2007) found that U.S. families with children age birth to 2 had an average of 2.53 televisions in their homes. One-fifth of those families had televisions in the children's rooms. More than one-third of 3- to 4-year-olds had televisions in their rooms as well. When asked about the reasons for placing a television inside a young child's bedroom, 47% of parents with children 2 years old and younger, 52% of parents with children ages 3 to 4 years old, and 60% of parents with children ages 5 to 6 years old explain they did so because the additional television provided an opportunity for the parents and/or other family members to watch their own shows. The authors reported that on a typical day, 63% of children 2...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A369128872