Rosemarie T. Truglio, Ph.D.
While we are all aware that children are born into a media-saturated world, what is changing significant is the availability and number of divergent media platforms designed for preschoolers, with more attention now being placed on developing media products for infants and toddlers. In 2003, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a nationally represented, random-digit dial telephone survey with 1,065 parents of children ages six months to six years old. The results of this survey showed how even the youngest of children (younger than two) are immersed in media ranging from television to computers to interactive electronic “gaming” consoles. Children younger than six spend on average two hours a day using screen media. What is more remarkable is that on a typical day, 68 percent of children under two use screen media for an average of just over two hours (2:05). In a recent analysis of media products developed specifically for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005), the researchers found that the majority of the products either make explicit or implicit (through marketing strategies) learning claims about the educational benefits from the use of the product without any scientifically based research to support their claims.
The goal of my presentation is to provide an overview of the range of electronic media platforms now available for young children ranging in age from infancy through preschool. After highlighting the amount of time infants, toddlers, and preschoolers spend with screen media, I will then demonstrate how the television and cable programming landscape has exploded over the past two decades, offering young children and their families a broad range of program choices. I will then highlight examples of products across media platforms (websites, DVDs, plug & play consoles, hand-held, mobile phones, etc.) designed for young children. Throughout my presentation I will use Sesame Street™ and Sesame Beginnings (a new series of DVDs developed for children younger than two and their parents and caregivers) as “case studies” to illustrate how Sesame Workshop has addressed this changing media landscape involving today’s children.