The impact of media technologies on child development and wellbeing1 by Susan Pitman, Senior Research Officer, OzChild
Rights context Article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall: a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29; b) Encourage international co-operation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources; c) Encourage the production and dissemination of children's books; d) Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous; e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18”. Article 13, supports the rights of children to seek and receive information and ideas of all kinds, subject to restrictions to protect public health. Article 18, supports parents in their primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their children, but requires that institutions support parents in this role. Potential benefits of media technologies Media technologies (TV, video, games, Internet, music, mobile phones) have brought about a substantial change in the experience of childhood in our society. These changes leave many parents unprepared for the challenge on how to regulate their child’s time with such technologies. There is now good evidence about the impact on children from media technologies, and that this constitutes a health issue. However, the utilisation of media technologies in Australian households clearly indicates that families like what these have to offer. International research has demonstrated that educational programs benefit children’s knowledge and academic abilities. This can begin in early childhood, where choice of program makes a considerable difference to children’s skills and knowledge when they enter school. In early childhood, television can provide children with a broader range of life situations and possibilities to explore through their play. Children can use media to increase their understanding of the world around them as well as teach positive social behaviours. These benefits can last through to adolescence. Television viewing has been studied in children who are academically gifted, with results suggesting that selective viewing can promote academic abilities. Furthermore, parents of gifted children are more likely to see the potential benefits of educational TV programs and make more selective viewing choices. Video games involving information, academic content and problem-solving have been shown to accelerate children’s learning. They can be particularly useful for children who have learning problems. Similarly, the breadth of information available on the Internet is clearly able to broaden children’s knowledge and
For internal distribution only. Much of the information has been cut and pasted from the original and while attributed at all times to the source, has not been reworded.
The impact of media technologies on child development and wellbeing
understanding of the world. (Children and the media: Advocating for the future Royal Australasian College of 2 Physicians (RACP),2004) . The benefits and implications of using computers and other media technologies in formal education have not been covered in this compilation of...
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