Our children live in a world of powerful 24/7 media. In addition to children’s exposure to traditional forms of media and advertisements like television, print (magazines, books), and billboards, new media has exploded in recent years. Over the last decade, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of time children and youth are engaging with media, particularly digital media. Children ages 2 to 8 spend an average of two hours per day, children between 8 and 12 spend four to six hours, and adolescents over 12 years old spend an average of seven to nine hours per day, according to recent research. Media is everywhere and technology is a part of life. However, with children spending such large amounts of time online and in front of screens, they are exposed to messages and information that can have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing and prevent them from becoming empowered and engaged citizens.
The messages, images, information, and experiences we engage with every day through media help shape our beliefs, attitudes, values, and identity. Used well, media can entertain, inform, and engage our children in positive ways. Media use helps young people become more competent in a digital age. Additionally, media allows for children and young people to express themselves and connect with others who are like them. Not to mention the ability to foster relationships with family members and friends that may not live locally. And in the wake of the COVID pandemic, we’ve learned so much about how children learn and how we can best harness technology in educational settings.