For an excellent article on the implications of screen time on child and adolescent development, please read Dan Digmann’s article on the work of Central Michigan University researcher, Dr. Sarah Domoff and the work of the Family Health Research Lab.
One of the most revelatory findings in this article is the finding that youth are engaged with digital media on average 7 hours per day. Yes, longer than they are in a classroom. Although it is not mentioned in the article, I am guessing they are not writing their own code, reading Milton’s collected poetry, or solving systems of equations on Khan Academy!
The lab is investigating the health effects on children, such as the correlation with obesity and other negative health outcomes. Additionally, the lab hopes to develop research based tips for “effective media parenting.”
For more information on Dr. Domoff and the Family Health Research Lab, please check out the Science, Math and Technology page of this website.
It includes a link to a television news feature on this work including the finding that over 50% of the time their was no parent/child interaction during the child’s use of digital screen time. Also, parents with higher levels of education tended to interact more and encourage their children to view educational media.
In my opinion, this has significant implications for a child’s development, especially when we know from Hart and Risley’s research how essential parent-child interaction is for language development as they highlighted in their seminal research, The Thirty Million Word Gap.
A big thank you to Dr. Domoff for helping with this blog’s core mission, and taking the time to answer questions that might help high school teachers promote students’ research literacy, which is also found on the Science, Math and Technology page.
Questions for Discussion
- How young do children engage in social media?
- How many subjects were in the study?
- How was the data collected and analyzed?
- What would a possible null hypothesis be for this research?
- What do you “guess” might be the correlation between screen time and obesity?
- What other negative health outcomes might there be?
- Is there a difference between type of screen time and cognitive development?
- To create more context, why are parents allowing their children to engage in so much screen time?
- What else does this inspire you to “dream, learn, do?”