Archive for the 'Parents/Caregivers' Category

Links to full list of AAP referenced research

Friday, October 21st, 2016

On Friday October 21, 2016 the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) released three policy statements regarding health recommendations on media use by children. A review of these policy statements shows the AAP has referenced 190 different research papers and articles to support their position. Almost 30% of the papers were made available in 2015 and 2016, and generally reference a large body of helpful information regarding screen use by American youth. Over 75% of the referenced research can be downloaded for free. In an effort to help advance the interests of researchers, educators, and industry here is a collection of all of the AAP referenced research in an Excel spreadsheet with links to easily access and download all of the material.

A collection links to the AAP referenced research on children and screens

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Buyer Beware – New Kids Search Engine Kiddle not from Google

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Photo of the Kiddle search page on a mobile device. Notice it says 'powered by editors and Google search'

Many of us who work in the kids tech industry have been interested in the new kids search engine called Kiddle (http://www.kiddle.co/). Trying any simple search through Kiddle provides some satisfying, child friendly results. It’s not a perfect service as some keywords provide mixed search results, but it’s a start. It’s Google-like design feels comforting to most adults, and the service appears to be a great Google search companion for the youngest Internet users. But here’s the thing, it’s not Google.

What the Kiddle service does do is tap into the Google SafeSearch capabilities, which is a digital extension of Google suite of search tools. Any business can add such a search feature to their own website if they wish. The thing that makes Kiddle unique is its claim of employing editors to screen search results in addition to Google’s SafeSearch. This combination provides an added layer of scrutiny to help ensure results are child appropriate. Sounds great. Who couldn’t get behind that idea? A great one-two punch, right?

The problem is the Kiddle site provides no information about who they are. There is a complete lack of transparency on the part of this business. Transparency is king in the children’s digital world. Without it, beware of company motives and interest in doing right by the child. While on the surface the Kiddle search engine appears to be a great service to parents and children, we should all hold off from recommending it to others until the company behind it steps out into the light and reveals itself, how it’s funded, and share other important aspects of its business like how it goes about hiring editors for its service.

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A Year of Children’s Conferences

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Photo of a conference hall

Where do you go to stay smart in the kids interactive industry? What conferences keep you on top of your craft, while also helping you grow your network? What events are vital to attend to learn the latest trends? There are so many conferences these days which ones are right for you? Look no further, here’s a compiled conference list to get you started! It covers areas of the children’s interactive media business like toys, eBooks, video games, children’s television, apps, play, research, consumer products, and more. The list below covers most of the big US and international shows in 2015, and just a few important smaller events.

You can download a PDF copy of this list here. Let us know what you think. Which events do you attend? What speakers draw you to an event? If there’s an event that’s not on this list, and you think it’s important, please let us know in the comments below.


# Conference w link Location Date(s) Focus
1 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Las Vegas, NV 1/6-9/15 Hardware, tech
2 Kids@Play Las Vegas, NV 1/7/15 KidTech
3 Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair Hong Kong 1/12-15/15 Toys
4 Digital Book World New York, NY 1/13-15/15 eBooks
5 FETC Orlando, FL 1/20-23/15 Ed tech
6 PAXsouth San Antonio, TX 1/23-25/15 Gaming
7 Nuremburg Toy Fair Nuremburg 1/28-2/2/15 Toys
8 NY Toy Fair New York, NY 2/14-17/15 Toys
9 Digital Kids Conference New York, NY 2/15-17/15 KidTech
10 Kidscreen Summit Miami, FL 2/23-26/15 Broadcast, Children’s TV
11 iKids Miami, FL 2/26/15 KidTech
12 Game Developers Conference (GDC) San Fran, CA 3/2-6/15 Gaming
13 PAXeast Boston, MA 3/6-8/15 Gaming
14 SXSWedu Austin, TX 3/9-12 2015 Education
15 SXSW Gaming Expo Austin, TX 3/13-16/15 Gaming
16 SXSW Interactive Austin, TX 3/13-17/15 Interactive
17 SXSW Music Austin, TX 3/17-22/15 Music
18 Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Philadelphia, PA 3/19-21/15 Research
19 Sandbox Summit Cambridge, MA 3/22-24/15 Play
20 Dust or Magic Masterclass Bologna 3/25/15 eBooks
21 Bologna Children’s Book Faire Bologna 3/30-4/2/15 Books
22 Early Education & Technology for Children (EETC) Salt Lake City, UT 3/15 Early ed, edtech
23 London Book Fair London, UK 4/14-16/15 Books
24 Games for Change New York, NY 4/21-23/15 Serious games
25 Dust or Magic eBook Retreat Honesdale, PA 4/15 eBooks
26 PlayCon Scottsdale, AZ 4/29-5/1/15 Toys
27 Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) San Fran, CA 5/3-5/15 Ed tech
28 Maker Faire Bay Area San Mateo, CA 5/16-17/15 Maker
29 Book Expo America (BEA) New York, NY 5/27-29/15 eBooks
30 AppCamp Pacific Grove, CA 5/30-6/2/15 Children’s Apps
31 “Content in Context (CIC, AAP) Wash DC 6/1-3/15 Ed publishing
32 NAEYC Professional Development conference New Orleans, LA 6/7-10/15 Early ed
33 Licensing Expo Las Vegas, NV 6/9-11/15 Licensing
34 Digital Media & Learning (DML) LA, CA 6/11-13/15 Ed tech
35 E3 LA, CA 6/16-18/15 Gaming
36 Interaction Design & Children (IDC) Medford, MA 6/21-24/15 Research
37 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Philadelphia, PA 6/28-7/1/15 Ed tech
38 Children’s Media Conference (Professional) Sheffield, UK 7/1-3/15 Broadcast
39 Playful Learning Summit Maddison, WI 7/7/15 Serious games
40 Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Maddison, WI 7/8-10/15 Serious games
41 ComicCom San Diego, CA 7/9-12/15 Entertainment
42 International Reading Association (IRA) St. Louis, MO 7/17-20/15 Education, reading
43 Serious Play LA, CA 7/15 Serious games
44 Casual Connect San Fran, CA 8/11-13/15 Gaming
45 Burning Man Black Rock Desert, NV 8/29-9/5/15 Art, mind
46 Digital Kids Summit San Fran, CA 9/15 KidTech
47 World Congress of Play San Fran, CA 9/15 Toys
48 Maker Faire New York New York, NY 9/26-27/15 Maker
49 MIP Jr. Cannes, France 10/2-4/15 Children’s television
50 MDR EdNet Atlanta, GA 10/4-6/15 Ed tech
51 MIPcom Cannes, France 10/5-8/15 Television
52 Fall Toy Preview Dallas, TX 10/6-8/15 Toys
53 Meaningful Play East Lansing, MI 10/15 Serious games
54 CineKid Amsterdam ~10/18-22/15 Interactive
55 Dust or Magic Lambertville, NJ 11/1-3/15 Kidtech, children’s apps
56 NAEYC Annual Conference TBA 11/15 Early ed
57 ChiTAG Chicago, IL 11/20-23/15 Toys
58 SIIA Education Business Forum New York, NY 12/15 Ed tech
59 Star Wars Episode VII release US 12/18/15 Entertainment

NOTE: Items highlighted in red indicate specifics about an event that have yet to be announced as of 11/10/2014.

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Contrary to Claims, Not All Media Is Bad For Kids Under 12

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

[The following is an article I wrote that appeared on the Fred Rogers Center blog, March 18, 2014.]

It’s been quite a week in the children’s media world. While preparing for the week ahead last Sunday, I noticed an article on Huffington Post that was spreading virally through my friends on Facebook. The article was a call to ban all hand-held devices from children under the age of 12. Backing up the claim, the author cited a long list of research on why kids should not engage with screen media at all.

Unfortunately, she misread much of the research by making that cardinal error in research of confusing correlation with cause. For example, several studies have looked at ADHD and media use with children, and some have found a link between the two. But that doesn’t mean media causes ADHD. Maybe instead children who have been diagnosed with ADHD have a greater interest in media consumption, or there might be some third unknown factor that is the real root of the problem. This mistake is an all too often occurrence, especially with many sensational headline seeking journalists.

On top of this, she offered not a single mention of anything positive about screen media.

Shortly after the article was posted, two great responses to this piece were published. The first was by David Kleeman, Glenda Revelle and Jessica Taylor Piotrowski entitled 10 Reasons Why We Need Research Literacy, Not Scare Columns and the second was by Melinda Wenner Moyer of Slate called Hands Off My Kid’s iPad: A Huffington Post Blogger’s Shaky Case for Banning Hand-held Devices for Children. Both articles go through the original claims, piece by piece, and demonstrate what is wrong with the original argument.

While all of this was going on, a noteworthy voice from the children’s media research world, Dimitri Christakis, serendipitously published an opinion called Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age of 2 Years – Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline? You may be unfamiliar with Christakis’ work, but you probably know its impact. Years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a warning to parents that they should not allow their children under age 2 to engage in screen media use at all, and they should limit the screen time of children under age 3. Christakis’ earlier work helped shape this recommendation. In the meantime, parents who do let their children use their smartphone or tablet have been beating themselves up, feeling like terrible, horrible, no good, very bad parents.

Well, Christakis is now suggesting that there may very well be important differences between linear media use (also known as television) and interactive media (like apps that are used on smartphones and tablets.) While more research is still needed, his statement is a giant first step to recognizing that maybe, just maybe, smartphones and tablets can be a benefit to early learning in some circumstances.

With that said, parents reading this, please know that while not all screens are created equal, the same is true for interactive content. Not all apps for kids that claim they are helpful are good for your child. However, a smaller number of carefully and thoughtfully developed products, often ones that are guided by research and testing, can be of benefit to young children.

So how do you tell the difference? Here’s a few commonsense recommendations to help guide you:

  • Parents should only use screen media in moderation with their young child if they use it at all.
    • Never use it as a babysitter or a replacement for human contact.
    • Engage in interactive media together with your child; you will be surprised at how much that helps in the learning.
    • Know that not all media is created equal. Some apps are of great benefit to learning, others are nothing more than poison. Two resources to help determine which is which are Common Sense Media and Children’s Technology Review. These sites rate interactive media products, and their appropriateness for users of all ages.

    For those of you looking for more guidance, the Rogers Center’s Framework for Quality offers advice on how to identify quality media tools across a range of platforms.

    This discussion is far from over, but in just the last few days the conversation related to young children and interactive media use has taken a very large and important step forward. That’s good news for parents, and those of use who wish to do good for children in the interactive space. I can’t wait to see what next week brings.

    [Scott Traylor is the founder and CEO of 360KID, a service-based company specializing in research-informed development of interactive learning products for children.]

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  • Cooney Study Leaves New Questions for Educational Media Creators

    Monday, January 27th, 2014

    [The following is an article I wrote for the Jan. 24, 2014 issue of KidScreen.]

    Vicky Rideout during her survey presentation at the Cooney Center Breakthrough Learning Forum.

    Media research reports are great for offering insights about an industry. They help media creators take stock in where they are today with their media creation efforts on different platforms, and they also provide ideas on how we can best serve an intended audience. At the same time, what is gained from a new study almost always leads to many more new questions that can’t immediately be answered.

    That’s certainly the case with the latest Joan Ganz Cooney Center report entitled Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America. According to Vicky Rideout, children’s media researcher and the report’s main author, this is the first time “we have tried to quantify, on a national basis, what portion of kids screen time is devoted to educational content.”

    The report digs deep into parents’ thoughts on their child’s use of educational media across a number of different platforms. One big finding that will not be a big surprise to broadcasters: Television is still king when it comes to delivering educational content, even though access to alternative platforms like mobile, computers and videogames has increased greatly in recent years. Television is the preferred platform by a long shot for educational media. Granted, the television industry has also had decades more time, almost 50 years’ worth, of creating and delivering educational content to young children than its younger media platform relatives. Still, with the explosive growth of mobile, this data point begs the question if parents are aware of the educational opportunities available to them on other platforms?

    Among the many insights offered, children engage with educational media less as they age. Two-to four-year-olds consume 1:16 (one hour and sixteen minutes) of educational media daily, dropping to 0:50 for five-to seven-year-olds, and further still to 0:42 for eight-to 10-year-olds. Even at this lower end for eight-to 10-year-olds, you could consider their educational media use as an added class of learning material each day. However, as a child ages they also spend more overall time consuming media, educational or not, to the point where eight to 10-year-old media usage almost doubles compared to that of two-to four-year-olds. Surprisingly, while this older group consumes less educational media content daily, their parents report seeing their child demonstration of “a particular action as a result of something they saw or did with educational media” more so than the younger age groups. This could very well be a cumulative effect of educational media use consumed over many years, but still, it’s striking data point in the research. One could strongly argue, this “particular action” is evidence of mastery of the educational content that is consumed.

    Other noteworthy findings:

    • Parents see a greater perceived learning impact in the areas of cognitive skills, reading, and math from educational media use but less impact with learning science or anything related to the arts.
    • The greater a parent’s education, the less educational media is consumed.
    • The greater the family’s income, the less educational media consumed.
    • Hispanic/Latino households reports less “actions taken” from educational media use than Black or White families.

    These are just a few of the many findings called out in this report. There’s also data on parent and child sharing in the educational media experience together (often referred to as “joint media engagement”) as well as findings on traditional book reading and eBook use.

    With just these few items I’ve called out above, the report forces us to consider many big, unanswered questions:

    • As children grow, why do they engage less with educational media, yet consume more media at the same time? Is there a need to create more engaging educational content for this age group than what is currently being offered?
    • What is it that we’re doing wrong, or not doing at all, to better engage Hispanic/Latino families with educational media?
    • Are parents less aware of the educational offerings available through mobile, computers and video games? If so, should we get behind a national awareness campaign to make ratings and reviews websites like Common Sense Media and Children’s Technology Review better known to parents?

    Perhaps the biggest question raised in this report is whether educational media use, which appears to have great benefit at an early age, leads to greater media consumption that is of less benefit to children as they age?

    Michael Levine, the executive director of the Cooney Center shares this report is the beginning of a larger conversation around educational media use. “There’s a lot of interest in having children view educational media, but less fulfillment of the wish as illustrated by this report, particularly for low income and Hispanic and Latino families,” he says.

    As media creators, it is imperative to understand what can be done to up our game in the educational media space, no matter what the delivery vehicle. Part of that entails informing parents about resources available to them today to help them find the best educational content broadcasters and software publishers have to offer. The Cooney Center as well as many other interested groups, foundations, and policy makers are already quickly working on the next new report, and latest research findings that will one day in the near future move the industry needle even further ahead, as well as create many more questions we’ve yet to imagine, as evidence by the volume of questions this report is sure to generate.

    Additional video links:
    1.) Vicky Rideout – Learning from Home report overview
    2.) Michael Levine – Learning from Home report overview
    3.) Playlist of all Learning from Home speakers
    4.) The complete Learning from Home discussion (speakers with audience discussion)

    [Scott Traylor is the CEO and founder of 360KID, a youth-focused organization that specializes in developing interactive content, apps, and games for broadcasters, publishers and organizations that wish to engage kids of any age.]

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