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Research shows new challenges for parents in media driven times

Research shows new challenges for parents: From stimulating self-perception in their children to teaching them self control in the overwhelming supply of technological stimuli.

The recent Nickelodeon study “The Story of Me” has noted a big difference in self-perception between Millenial Generation kids and kids born after 2005. For the Millenium kids self-perception has been a big issue and their parents have been focusing on stimulating their children’s self esteem. Today’s generation of kids is demonstrating defining characteristics that set them apart from generations prior. Select findings and highlights from the presentation include:

  • 8 out of 10 of these kids, whose eldest members are just turning 9, believe that they are smarter than most other kids their age.
  • Humor is important to this generation, with 74% describing themselves as funny, and 50% ranking themselves between 10 and 11 on an 11-point scale, with 11 representing “very funny.”
  • Kids say they are happy, and they have a strong sense of self. They believe they are nice to people, smart and that they make their parents happy.
  • They are self-assured, with 96% saying they believe they can accomplish anything they want to if they work hard enough.

The parents of these after-2005-born kids may not have to deal with self-perception, however they have a new challenge!

They, themselves being GenXers (born between 1960 and 1980), have to deal with the profound increase in Media and Technology use of their kids: media consumption among kids has grown over the past four years to nearly 35 hours per week, presenting an increase of 2.2 hours since 2009.

An increasing amount of studies have demonstrated the pro’s and con’s of screen time consumption by kids, categorized for different age groups. Some studies find disadvantages, but two most recent studies emphasize that gaming isn’t bad for children, and tv has educational values.

A recent review of research by the Radboud University shows significant benefits on cognitive skills, emotional behavior and emotional skills.

In de massive study among 11.000 children playing videogamesand watching TV from the age of 5 – 7 in the UK, published in the Brittish Medical Journal, shows some interesting results. The study looked into behavior related to watching tv and playing games.

  • Exposure to video games had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues.
  • Watching 3 or more hours oftelevision at age 5 did lead to a small increase in behavioral problems inyoungsters between 5 and 7. Under 3 hours no increase showed.
  • Neither television nor video games leadto attentional or emotional problems.
  • There was no difference between boysand girls in the survey results.

However, there is reason for caution on heavy usage:

“The study suggests that a cautionary approach to the heavy use of screen entertainment in young children is justifiable in terms of potential effects on mental wellbeing, particularly conduct problems, in addition to effects on physical health and academic progress shown elsewhere.”

Like with many things: A little is good. A little bit more may be better. Too much is never a good or healthy thing, be it food, sports, work, screen time or gaming. All in moderation.

According to the Nickelodeon Study of Me, one of the crucial challenges for the near future will be for parents to teach, maybe themselves, but especially their children, useful strategies to protect oneself against the countless temptations that stimulate our reward systems in the brain.

Patty Valkenburg, Dutch professor Media, Youth and Society at the University of Amsterdam says in a Dutch newspaper:

“Parent’s challenge is teaching their children self-control. Learning and social behavior takes an effort, and also the postponing of nicer things, the ones that are offered to us by smartphone and iPad. Teaching children self-control means helping them learn to deal with frustrations and disappointments. As parents and educators we have to be consistent and set boundaries.”

As Developlay, we support these findings!