Sunday, March 18, 2007

TV blamed for rise in child-speech problems (again?)

We should thank Renee Switzer for reporting on this 'alarming modern trend' and in relying on Leonie Trimper's self acknowledged 'ancedotal evidence' from School Principals to support shoddy arguments and assertions like:
"Families aren't sitting around the dinner table any more every night talking about what's happened during the day and engaging with the children,"

"Children are sitting in front of televisions more and computers playing computer games. It's dinner in front of the television, video games after dinner, or parents both working and time poor — all those issues have to impact on children."
Also weighing in is 'Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg' who is always willing to offer his perspective on what young people are up to these days but less willing, it seems, to point to the specific 'good data' that he often uses to support his views:
"There is good data to show that the more often you sit around a dining room table and have a conversation around a meal, the better the language development of children," he said.
Thanks Doctor. You and Leonie may be interested in the increadibly large body of sociological, communication, literacy and educational research literature that gives a very different picture of the phenomena. Many of these studies show that young people engage with television, computer games and other forms of media culture in a range of rich and complex ways. Ways that strengthen and help develop their literacy skills.

It is far too easy to blame modern technologies for the ills and problems our young people face. Rather than create a panic or crisis, the likes of which Dr Kevin Donnelly would be proud, I would have thought educators and scientists such as yourself would be more interested in trying to communicate some of the complexity of the situation to the media?

Here is a brief selection of research that might be useful. Perhaps Dr Carr-Greg might want to clarify the 'good data' he refers to?

Bazalgette, Cary & Buckingham, David. (eds) (1995) In front on the children: Screen entertainment and young audiences. London: British Film Institute.

Buckingham, David. (1996) Moving images: Understanding children's emotional responses to television. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Buckingham, David. (2000) After the death of childhood: Growing up in the age of electronic media. Oxford, UK: Polity Press.

Buckingham, David & Willett, Rebekah. (2006) Digital generations: Children, young people, and the new media. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Calvert, Sandra L. (2002) Children in the digital age: Influences of electronic media on development. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Fisherkeller, J. (2002) Growing up with television: Everyday learning among young adolescents. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Gee, James Paul. (2002) Millenials and bobos, Blues Clues and Sesame Street: A story for our times. In D. E. Alvermann (ed.) Adolescents and literacies in a digital world (pp. 51-67). New York: Peter Lang

Gee, James Paul. (2003) What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

Greenfield, P M & Cocking, R (eds) (1996) Mind and media: The effects of television, video games and computers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Himmelweit, H T, Oppenheim, A N & Vince, P. (1958) Television and the child: An empirical study of the effect of television on the young. London; New York: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry. (1992) Textual poachers: Television fans & participatory culture. London: Routledge.

Kline, S. (1993) Out of the garden: toys, TV and children's culture in the age of marketing. London: Verso.

Lohr, P & Meyer, M (eds) (1999) Children, television and the new media. Luton: University of Luton Press.

Marsh, J (ed.) (2005) Popular culture, new media and digital literacy in early childhood. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Marsh, Jackie, Brooks, Greg, Hughes, Jane, Ritchie, Louise, Roberts, Samuel & Wright, Katy. (2005) Digital beginnings: Young children's use of popular culture, media and new technologies. Literacy Research Centre, University of Sheffield. Accessed Dec 2005,

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