Research has shown both positive and negative connections between the exposure to electronic media and the resulting influence on children’ cognitive development.
In children over the age of two, exposure to age-appropriate, educational programming correlates ith academic enhancement. Exposure to strictly entertaining or violent content shows correlation to lower academic achievement. An examination of Piaget’s developmental stages lends validity to the findings explored by these authors. Steps can be taken by parents to reduce the negative effects and increase the positive effects of media. Education and advocacy is key to affecting positive change.
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Developmental Milestones Research done before the 1 980’s supported the idea that television viewing was cognitively passive maintaining attention through fast movement and sound effects. Jerome Singer believed children could not process television content; he stated “the ‘busyness’ of television leads to sensory bombardment that interferes with cognition and, as a result, a child cannot learn from it” (Singer J. , 1990). According to this measure, Sesame Street was viewed as providing nothing of educational value. Healy, 1990) In contrast, several theories emerged concluding the following: First, the features of electronic media that stimulate children’s attention may change as a child ages. While movement and sound effects may gain the attention in infancy, lder children are able to understand and give greater attention to dialogue and narrative. Second, the content of the media plays influences the attention span in children at least as young. When presented with normal video clips or those edited to make them incomprehensible, children would pay more attention to the first (E. P. Lorch, 1983).
Developmental Considerations When considering the impact Of media on a child, we will consider Piaget’s developmental stages. Before a child can be influenced by media, the child must have the ability to perceive the video itself. Children do not discriminate etween real objects and those presented on video until around the ages of two and three. (TA. Pempek, 2007) Studies suggest that children ages 6-12 months do not seem to comprehend the symbolic nature of television and could not differentiate between a video that was produced to be nonsensical and one that was normal (TA.
Pempek, 2007). Piaget’s developmental stages support this finding. Early representational thought emerges between 18-24 months, and the child begins to understand the world through mental operations rather than purely actions (Cherry, 2013) In correspondence to evelopmental stages, children under the age of two years learn better from real-life experiences than from video. This trait disappears around age three when learning from videos flourishes (Anderson, Television and Very Young Children, 2005).
Piaget demonstrates that at this stage, logic and the ability to take the point of view of others is a struggle. In contrast, preschool-age children are able to imitate behaviors they modeled through media (Heather L. Kirkorian, 2008; Princeton University). Media Effects on Attention and Other Cognitive Skills It is significant to consider the content and its effect on cognitive evelopment. Attention deficit in older children correlates with early exposure to violent and non-educational entertainment.
While exposure to educational television was not related to attentional problems (Christakis, 2007). Exposure to violent content in media has been shown to result in decreased ability for a child to self-regulate, obey rules, tolerate delay or persist in task completion. (Rovet, 1999). There is concern that viewing television at a young age is detrimental to the development of attention. Frequent changes in scenes and content of media negatively impacts the hild’s ability to sustain attention (Singer, 1998).
Research suggests that attention development may be directly affected by exposure to electronic media. Evidence is relatively weak in support of the detrimental impact in children younger than two years of age, although concern over television exposure before age two has been repeated in research on cognitive development more generally (Christakis, 2007). Specific television content has been linked to attention skills, once again indicating that program content appears to be an important factor in the developmental outcomes.
More esearch needs to be done on the effects of interactive video games. Studies have found that video game play may enhance spatial cognition and other cognitive skills, but research is lacking on the effect on attention development. Interventions Interventions that will foster positive outcomes include parental involvement and education. parents as well as media producers can increase the educational value of electronic media. Parents who view programming with their child, increase the effectiveness of educational media.
For example, parents can expand the effectiveness of educational objectives by drawing heir child’s attention to the most important aspects of the program and applying the concepts presented within a real-life context. Some studies suggest that co-viewing with a parent or other adult may increase a child ‘s learning from educational television, particularly when the co-viewer actively mediates by explicitly drawing attention to the program and by asking and answering questions (Stein, 1 975) Conclusion This brief review of media and its effects on cognitive development supports the idea that children can clearly learn from educational media.
The extent to hich there is long-lasting effects seems to correlate more with the content viewed rather than the age of exposure. Programs with educational content and program development are positively associated with overall measures of achievement and potentially long-lasting effects, while purely entertainment content, particularly violent content, is negatively associated with academic achievement.