Effects of Digital Media on Children

Course excerpt from Effects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and Learning

Television became a hot topic of discussion in the 1950s, and even more so as children’s programming became available. Family’s lives were forever changed as their youngsters began to cluster on the floor and sit mesmerized in front of the heavy console piece of furniture with the flickering black and white picture. Programming for children seemed to be a ready-made helpmate to the parents who needed distractions, for many mothers while they went about house chores, especially when the weather made it prohibitive to send the kids outside to play. In fact, the houses with a family fortunate enough to have a television quickly became the youngsters’ favorite home on the block. In fairness to the youth, adult television shows were just as intriguing to the parents.

Televised news, variety shows, dramatic stories, and early game shows soon gave way to a myriad of sports shows, animal documentaries, and even singing shows; Baby Boomers likely remember “Mitch Miller” directing us to watch the bouncing ball so that we could all sing along from the comfort of our living rooms. Whether we mark the beginning of media use with the silent, then “talkie,” movies shown in theaters, or the introduction of television to the intimacy of our homes, media technology has been affecting the lives of humans for several decades. More recently, with the advent of lap top computers, smart phones and tablets, digital technology is a hot topic and area of concern for many parents, teachers, and healthcare practitioners.

Effects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and LearningTo use one of the newer phrases in our techno-influenced vocabularies, “fast forward” to the second decade of the twenty-first century and we are now surrounded by media technology ranging from small sized that will fit into our hands, to wall mounted screens that support life-size images. These screens portray a wide range of content, from televised humans in dramatic stories, to cartoon/ animated figures in entertainment programs or video games. The location of technology in our homes has increased at a dizzying speed, and several research surveys will be presented in this course to identify the extent to which technology has infiltrated daily lives.

Rarely does a home have only one television in the living room- many have TV sets in bedrooms, living rooms, and even kitchens. Entertainment rooms have been replaced with mobile devices that enable us to take our smart phones, tablets, or laptop computers with us wherever we go. Many homes have multiple media screen monitors so that some may be dedicated to video games, while others are used with computers. The movement toward the use of tablets in homes, preschools, and both primary- and secondary-schools is reaching its highest level of use to-date. The combined use of e-readers, tablets, and laptop computers has changed the everyday life of students who may no longer use textbooks for homework or in-class learning activities.

Whether you’re a person who rushes out to buy every new piece of technology as soon as it hits the market or one who scratches their head over the way it seems that everyone is carrying a smart phone and looking at their phone instead of the world around them, digital media is a part of our lives. Researchers in psychology, pediatric medicine, nursing, counseling, social work, speech-language pathology and other related professions are attempting to identify exactly how digital technology is changing our society. There is no doubt that technology is shaping our world in many ways, even if we don’t actively use the internet or use our phones to text.

We cannot escape ubiquitous smartphones being used by people walking on the street without looking at their surroundings, sitting in sports arenas and missing the live action of the sport occurring in front of them, and unfortunately, by drivers of cars on the streets on which we travel. There is absolutely no doubt that texting while driving is criminally, and often fatally, dangerous. But, there are other areas where the dangers may not be as apparent.

Is it possible that the ever increasing use of technology and media by young children is not good for a child’s development? Early childhood educators are involved in research to help us answer that question. Do we really know that using tablets and laptops in our classrooms is more effective than teacher-directed learning? Teachers and education specialists are re-examining the school settings in which this has already changed the model of teaching. Is note taking on a keyboard more helpful for learning than using a pen or pencil to write down notes during a teacher’s lecture? Some research suggests that writing notes supports more effective learning than taking notes on a keyboard device.

Effects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and LearningEffects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and Learning is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews the research on media use and offers guidance for educators and parents to regulate their children’s use of digital devices. Today’s world is filled with smartphones used by people ignoring their surroundings and even texting while driving, which is criminally dangerous. Are there other dangers that may not be as apparent? Media technology (e.g., smart phones, tablets, or laptop computers) have changed the world. Babies and children are affected and research reveals that 46% of children under age one, and up to 59% of eight-year-old children are exposed to cell phones. In England, nearly 80% of senior primary-school staff reportedly are worried about poor social skills or speech problems of children entering school, which they attribute to the use of media devices. Media technology affects family life, children’s readiness for entering school or preschool, and classroom learning. Recent research delineates a developmental progression of understanding information on devices for children between ages 2- 5 years. Younger children may believe false information if it is on a computer. This research is important for understanding technology uses in education. There are also known health risks and possible adverse effects to social-emotional development. Statistics describing the increase of media technology and developing trends in media use are presented along with guidelines and position statements developed to protect children from risks and adverse effects. Course #30-96 | 2017 | 50 pages | 20 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

About the Author:

Janet Harrison, PhD, CCC-SLP, has been an Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology at Purdue University, an Associate Professor at Marshall University and an Assistant Professor at Valdosta State University. Prior to her university positions she was Administrative Director of Clinical Services, Devereux Hospital & Neurobehavioral Institute of Texas, and developed a clinical program as the director of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Devereux Hospital & Children’s Center of Florida. Dr. Harrison has worked extensively in both medical and educational settings for intervention with children and adolescents who have language disorders as well as emotional/behavioral disorders.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).