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Urgency of media education hardly felt by parents of children aged 0-6

  • Friday 25 March 2022
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Media education is not an urgent topic among parents of children aged 0 to 6. For no less than three quarters of the parents, media education comes last - after healthy nutrition, sufficient exercise, social behaviour and hygiene. As in previous years, a large majority of parents recognize mainly the positive effects of media, like better language development and arithmetic skills. They also believe that media are good for creativity. However, parents are insufficiently aware of the harmful long-term effects. Only a quarter of the parents are concerned about negative effects such as short-sightedness or obesity. This has emerged from the Iene Miene Media 2022 survey that will be presented at the start of the Media Kiddie Days (25 March to 1 April) and which Windesheim professor Peter Nikken has contributed to.

This year, parents once again tend to emphasize the more positive effects of media and be less concerned about the negative aspects. Higher educated parents in particular are less worried than other parents about the negative effects of media on young children. It is striking, however, that more than half of the parents indicate that they regularly see negative effects of media use in their children, like busy or rebellious behaviour, shyness or sleeping problems. Especially lower educated parents or parents with a different cultural background experience these negative effects in their children relatively more often.

World Health Organization guidelines significantly exceeded

Children appear to spend a lot of time using media. For example, children from 0 to 6 years of age spend an average of one and a half hours per day on various media activities. This exceeds the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), which are also used by the Sector Association for Social Childcare and other advisory or support organizations. They recommend that young children up to 2 years of age use media as little as possible and children up to 5 years of age use a maximum of 1 hour a day. Many international studies indicate a connection between excessive media use and health problems. Examples include obesity, short-sightedness, lack of sleep or difficulty getting to sleep, but also the influence on school performance and interaction with other children. To prevent these negative effects of media, it is important that children learn from a young age how to use media in a way that is conscious, safe and healthy.

Professor Peter Nikken on the declining urgency of media education

"This is the tenth year that the Iene Miene Media survey has been conducted. A lot has happened in those ten years. In particular, recent developments like the corona pandemic have had a great impact on how parents get to spend time on education and how they and their children use media in doing so. Moreover, it appears that parents are less involved in watching together and taking part in their children’s media use than in previous years, a declining trend that was already visible. Because media devices, like smartphones and (children's) tablets, are increasingly easy to operate and are also increasingly geared towards individual use, parents have less opportunity to actually use media together. The urgency of media education seems to be fading into the background and that’s a worrying development. It's important that we show children how to use media at a young age", says our professor of Youth & Media(opens in new tab)Peter Nikken(opens in new tab)

Professor Peter Nikken

Parents show little insecurity about their media knowledge 

Parents are aware of their limited knowledge on how to deal with media in bringing up their child. Only three in ten parents believe they have sufficient knowledge. Yet parents do not seem to be insecure about this. Less than 10% of parents feel insecure when talking about media education with other parents. Nor do they rate their knowledge about children and media lower than other parents.

Nikken argues for a stronger policy on the subject of media education

Prof. Nikken argues for a stronger policy and more activities to support and advise parents: " Parents make logical choices. Raising children is not easy, and life is often hectic. So letting your children use a screen is an easy and quick option, which benefits both children and parents. But media education remains an important topic, precisely because children spend so much screen-time. Libraries, parent-child centres, general practitioners, childcare and education, but also the media industries can help parents with this. They can advise on how to pay sincere attention to media and your young child in parenting, how to make choices for media that fit the developmental stage of young children, and how to maintain a balance between media use and offline activities.

Corona pandemic no lasting impact on media use

The corona pandemic of the past two years, however, does not seem to have had a lasting impact on the media use of children aged 0 to 6. Last year, seven out of ten parents said they noticed the impact of corona on their children, but now only half of them say so. The impact is mainly expressed in the amount of time the child spends behind a screen compared to previous years (18%), although this figure is roughly halved compared to 2021. However, with the reopening of schools, there does seem to be a slight increase (from 4% to 6%) in the number of children experiencing problems online, such as fights, bullying or being hacked. 

Media Kiddie Days: swipe, step, jump

Every year, Network Media Wisdom(opens in new tab) organizes the Media Kiddie Days(opens in new tab) to draw attention to media wisdom in the education of children aged 0 to 6. This year, the Media Kiddie Days take place from 25 March to 1 April 2022 and the theme is swipe, step, jump. This year, questions like: 'Can you let a child play with a tablet, TV, smartphone or book alone, or is it better to play together?', 'How to guide a child step by step in the 'digital world', 'How do you use media, so that a child learns something and jumps?', 'And how do you make choices that fit the development of your child? More than 150 organizations and institutions are hosting activities during the Media Kiddie Days to help parents with these questions.



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