How digital technology is changing the rhythm of family life

Earlier this summer, the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre released a study called Families Matter which documents how families with young children are integrating digital media into the rhythm of daily life.

800 parents of children ages 3-10 were interviewed for the study which examines how parents feel about raising children in a digital age.

The study found that most families are in a period of transition when it comes to digital technologies in our homes as we try to adjust to these new technologies that are profoundly changing our world. I had originally written both ours and our kids world, but then realized that our kids world isn’t going to be “changed”. For them, it will just be the world they live in.

Not surprising, when it comes to the media we participate in with our children, we prefer the older stuff. 89% of us say we like watching TV with our kids, 79% of us read books with them, and 73% of us play board games (really?). But the one media our kids really love – video games – is the one that only half of us are doing with them, which is even more interesting to me when the research shows that the majority of us  believe that video games help children foster skills that are important to their academic achievement.

While parents believe that video games can be powerful educational tools, we are not quite so fond of the educational potential of mobile technologies with many of us viewing mobile phones as the least educational device our kids can use. Yet many educators, such as the New Media Consortium in their 2011 New Horizons report on educational technology, are predicting that mobile technologies s will be a major force in education in the very near future. Clearly there is a disconnect with how parents perceive mobile technologies and how educators perceive them when it comes to their role in education.

Other findings of the study include:

  • More than half of parents are concerned about the effect of media usage on their children’s health, but fewer than 1 in 5 of us think our kids spend too much time with digital media.
  • More than a third of us have learned something technical from our kids.
  • Lack of exercise and online privacy are our biggest concerns.


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