What new research on kids’ media use means for teachers

March 7, 2018 ACSA Writer

By Erin Wilkey Oh of Common Sense Education

The newest wave of the Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight (also conducted in 2011 and 2013) shines a spotlight on the increasing presence that devices and media have in young kids’ lives. For educators, the survey data help us better understand what’s going on at home and can guide our thinking about the role teachers play in shaping students’ media use.

Mobile access is nearly universal

Perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that mobile device use has become nearly universal, with 98% of kids age 8 and under living in a home with some type of mobile device. In addition, the amount of time young kids spend on mobile devices has tripled since 2013, from 15 minutes a day to 48 minutes a day, a close second to the 58 minutes a day kids spend watching TV.

For educators, the rise of mobile media in homes presents us with an important role to play for kids and families. Consider the following tips:

Parents and pediatricians are sometimes at odds when it comes to media behaviors

Contrary to recommendations from pediatricians, many kids use media shortly before bedtime, and many families leave the TV on in the background most of the time. In addition, only one in five parents say they know the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for their child’s media use.

First and foremost, these findings can help teachers better understand factors that might be affecting kids at school. As studies have shown, screen time before bed can interfere with sleep, and background TV can also have negative effects on kids. Given that educators have frequent and regular interactions with parents, we’re in a valuable position to share trustworthy research and resources on media use with families. Add these items to your parent communication plan:

The digital divide is shrinking, but still exists

Today there’s a 22 percentage-point gap in high-speed internet access at home between kids in lower- and higher-income households (74% versus 96% for high-speed internet), which is down from a 50 percentage-point gap in 2011.

While this is a trend in the right direction, we can’t overlook the fact that a gap still exists. And with more schools moving to online learning management systems and paperless classrooms, our low-income students who don’t have reliable internet access at home are potentially getting left behind. To support equity in our schools and classrooms, consider the following actions:

For more key findings plus essays on the implications of the data from thought leaders in children’s health, education, and policy, download the full report.

Read more on the topic of technology in education here and join ACSA on April 12-14, 2018, for the Leadership 3.0 Symposium, a collaborative effort by ACSA, Computer Using Educators (CUE), and Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL). The symposium features keynote presentations, free workshops, excellent networking opportunities, and more.

ACSA is dedicated to providing K-12 administrators with the most relevant content in education administration. Become a member and join us for our world-class Leadership Summit, Every Child Counts Symposium, professional development events, free one-on-one mentorship program, ongoing Equity Project, statewide advocacy efforts, members-only benefits, and much more.

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Kids’ screen time shifts dramatically toward phones and tablets
Kids’ screen time shifts dramatically toward phones and tablets

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