Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and 'new media'
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently aired a new report about New Report on Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers. Some of the conclusions:
Many child development experts believe that the qualities inherent in some media – such as interactivity, repetition, and the ability to customize content – have tremendous potential as learning tools. Some argue that for children who come from disadvantaged homes, or who lack access to quality child care or preschool, “toys” like educational video games or DvDs could play an especially important role in literacy, numeracy, and overall cognitive development. And certainly many schools already use media-based curricula for older children in the classroom.
But others point out that, as a rule, products for the home market tend to be less strictly curriculum-based than those developed for schools. And while products for the classroom may go through a formal review and approval process, the main tool many parents have to assess the quality of products for in-home use is the product’s own affordable and easy way to make learning fun, to turn play time into education time. Many of the unique properties of media lend themselves not only to making learning fun – like engaging characters, compelling images, and attention-getting sounds – but also, potentially, to making learning more effective. Many child development experts believe that the qualities inherent in some media – such as interactivity, repetition, and the ability to customize content marketing and advertising. Many of these home-based products are created for very young children, for use at an age that is critical to children’s brain development, but when the effectiveness of media as an educational tool is, at this point, unproven. In fact, preliminary research indicates that the various media may be less effective in educating very young children than are the other activities that they may well be displacing – such as one-on-one parental interaction.