In reading Generation M2, Media in the lives of 8 to 18 year olds, I don’t think that I was very surprised by the key findings particularly with the finding that there has been a huge increase in media use among young people (2). It is evident that we have become a society heavily dependent upon technology. As new technology becomes available, I do not see how this trend will not continue.
Other key findings that I found interesting was the relationship between media usage and lower achievement and lower personal satisfaction. Heavy users (16 hours or more a day) tend to have poor grades, are unhappy and are bored. I do not find the fact that heavy users are negatively impacted in both their academic and social lives, what I find fascinating is how a child can engage in media usage for 16 hours a day. This would mean they are using technology in some form almost all day long. How could their usage not impact their lives significantly? Who is allowing students to use technology to such a great extent and why? The study was not able to establish a causal relationship but it would be interesting to see if there is any relationship.
The finding about increased usage among tweens and early teens was almost disturbing. This group was defined as 11 to 14 years old, which means that these students are primarily middle school students. How are they spending so much time engaged with media? They are still so little, and the great majority of this age group is in middle school. I understand that as students enter the adolescent years, they become highly social and the need to keep in contact with their peer group might increase but to me, the amount of time being spent is excessive to be so young. It would also seem that usage increased among Blacks and Hispanics, primarily boys.
I was surprised to note the following, “Contrary to the public perception that media use displaces physical activity, those young people who are the heaviest media users report spending similar amounts of time exercising or being physically active as other young people their age who are not heavy media users (the differences are not statistically significant) (12).” I am aware that children are engaging in media use in different ways, listening to music, having the television on in the background but how are the heaviest users able to multitask to the extent that they are exercising in a similar amount as less heavy users. It would seem to me if their physical activity is not being displaced, what is being displaced? It was also good to note that the digital divide is narrowing and more families have computers in the home.
The study is informative as to what is happening, and I don’t think that this information is unknown to those of us who work with children. Every day I see little ones (first and second grade who have to put their phones away before class starts, or students who try to friend me on Facebook or Instagram so I know that they have access and are aware of the many uses of technology. I would like to see more information as to why media usage is exploded so significantly and what we can do to combat it.
In reading the other two texts, High-Text tots: Childhood in a Digital World and Media Ecologies, I felt that I’ve heard a bit of this before. Jessica’s World gave us a more practical view of how our youngest students may be using technology at school, at play and at home, and how her positive experiences enhance her education and her life. And we know that positive, developmentally appropriate and properly supported use of technology is beneficial to students. However, the author acknowledges that this is not always the case, “….and her experience is certainly not universal at this point in time (Wang 2010). Media Ecologies also provides more varied narratives about how families are engaging with technology, and I did appreciate the genres of participation – hanging out, messing around and geeking out. However, what I am continuing to see is a bit of a trend that really points the idea, the theory that technology use in children needs to be governed, monitored, and planned in a way that is beneficial to the child based on their age and development.