Powering up educational media at home

This report from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop presents findings from a study on families’ educational media use. Data was collected through a national survey of more than 1,500 parents of children aged 2-10. The survey covered children’s home use of television, DVDs, video games, tablets, and other electronic devices, and investigated how much of the media content was considered educational (media use for homework or other school assignments was excluded). Some key findings of the study were:

  • 54% of respondents said their child “often” takes specific actions as a result of their exposure to educational media, such as talking about something they saw (38%), engaging in imaginative play based on it (34%), asking questions about it (26%), or asking to do a project or activity inspired by it (18%).
  • As children get older, the amount of time they spend with screen media goes up (from 1 hour and 37 minutes to 2 hours and 36 minutes a day), and the proportion that is considered educational goes down (from 78% to 27%).
  • Parents do not believe their children learn as much from educational media about science as they do about other subject areas.

The authors emphasise that no parent’s estimate of their child’s media use is likely to be exact. However, they say that when dealing with children aged 10 and under, time and frequency estimates from parents are more likely to be reliable than those obtained from the child.

Source: Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America (2014), The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

The Sesame Street effect

“Count von Count, Sesame Street’s friendly mathematical vampire, is obsessed with a new number: 0.29”, says Dr Charlotte Cole, Senior Vice President of Global Education at Sesame Workshop. She was responding to a new article in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology which found that the impact of Sesame Street is significant and positive, with an effect size of 0.292.

The authors conducted a meta-analysis examining the effects of children’s exposure to international co-productions of Sesame Street, synthesising the results of 24 studies, conducted with over 10,000 children in 15 countries. The results indicated significant positive effects of watching the programme, aggregated across learning outcomes, and within three outcome categories: cognitive outcomes, including literacy and numeracy; learning about the world, including health and safety knowledge; and social reasoning and respect for others.

Source: Effects of Sesame Street: A Meta-analysis of Children’s Learning in 15 Countries (2013), Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34(3).