children and media

Blind Spots

IMG_0620I was at a speech by a prominent researcher in the Communications field, with a focus on Children and Media .

First of all, she spoke movingly and many of her points were familiar to anyone who studies and works with issues around children and media. Media for connecting far-flung family and friends, the suffering of those who do not have access to media tools when those around them do. 

Some of her research insights were very helpful. For instance, it is the time management habits of parents in higher socioeconomic groups, not necessarily their use of media directly, that was communicated to their children.

There were several Aha! moments, though, that highlight the difference in emphasis between those who study children from a communications point of view (necessarily seeing children + media as central to the questions) and those pediatricians, psychologists and social scientists that focus on the child from physical,mental and emotional points of view.

For instance, the speaker said (dismissively) Do you remember when the AAP came out saying only two hours of media a day? Everyone in the room, save me, laughed as she said “I think it is still out there somewhere, ” waving her hand.  She had just said that having a baby doesn’t make a person an expert, that people need to listen to the experts. Does she not think people from the medical professions, who are seeing the very concrete effects of media use among young children (obesity, possible attention issues, decrease in creative play and small motor skills) are experts?  A blind spot.

There were other moments when I saw the blind spot of those who research from a narrow focus on Child+Media, rather than a more holistic approach to the child. 

During the Q and A, a music teacher expressed concern about what she has seen over her years of teaching: the loss of small motor function, not just because of media, but Velcro instead of shoe ties, etc. The speaker spoke for a moment about things are the same, just being done differently. She then held up her smartphone and said: ” But I don’t get lost anymore. I just put in this address and it said: go down Seventh Avenue…” 

She doesn’t seem to see the difference between BEING able to navigate and HAVING access to a navigation tool; that she might  still get lost, she + her phone don’t. Another blind spot – Both are at the heart of the question. 



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