The release of the latest iPad has me once again thinking about its role in childrens' media consumption.
Recently, Henning and I did a research project on an iPod Touch pilot program at the International School of The Hague, where my children attend. We were curious and wanted to explore what is proving to be a divisive topic: the continuous use of consumer electronic devices among children.
As a parent, I am concerned about the amount of time my kids spend in front of screens. The 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Report didn't make me feel much better about it. The resulting statistics apparently shocked the researchers themselves: children 8 to 18 years of age spend an average—an average!—of 7.5 hours a day consuming electronic media. If you count multi-tasking, the figure hits nearly 11 hours. The New York Times had it right: their article about the report was titled “If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online.”
School used to be a respite from this screen media assault. With the release of the iPod Touch, and now with iPads, personal devices are entering learning environments. “So what?” you might say, “Computers have been in school for years.” The interesting aspect of these devices is that they are truly personal tech - and, unlike computers, can, more or less, be used anywhere. Like it or not, ubiquitous computing is here, and readily available for our youngest members of society. We wanted to find out whether giving kids their own screens in class would become part of the problem or part of the solution........
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