Weekly News Roundup 9th October

This week we look at a new study on pre-schoolers’ use of mobile devices, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated guidelines on digital technology and recent research which looks at the part played by digital platforms and devices in teenagers’ romantic relationships.

American Academy of Pediatrics changes its digital technology guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been known for its critical stance on digital technology use for young children. In guidelines published in 2011 it recommended no exposure to screens at all for children under two and limiting screen time to two hours per day for older children. Recently however the academy updated its guidelines to reflect a more nuanced approach. In the new guidelines parents are encouraged to take part in their child’s technology use, prioritise unstructured play time and create ‘tech-free zones’. The guidelines also state that digital technology can have a positive impact on children’s education and that online relationships are integral to teenage development. The AAF says that parenting has not fundamentally changed, with the same parenting rules applying to online worlds and offline worlds. It urges parents and carers to set limits, be involved, teach kindness, be a good role model and get to know your children’s friends.

Research reveals extent of pre-schoolers’ use of tablets
Research carried out by the University of Sheffield has shown the extent of mobile device usage among younger children. According to the research, a third of children under five own their own tablet. Ownership remains high among even younger children; a quarter of children under three have a device of their own. Due to the intuitive nature of touch screen devices, many children are using their tablets independently and more than a third (35%) of parents of pre-schoolers say their child plays with the tablet on their own. Almost six in ten (57%) pre-schoolers however play on a tablet with a parent or guardian watching. Based on these findings, the researchers are calling for more support for parents and recommend ‘family digital literacy programmes’ in early years settings and in schools. The study was carried out in collaboration with the children’s channel CBeebies and also found that children’s favourite apps were YouTube, CBeebies, Angry Birds, Talking Tom and Peppa’s Paintbox.

Teens’ digital love
Research published today from the Pew Centre in the US has looked at the way in which digital devices are incorporated into teens’ romantic relationships. The research finds that 85% of teenagers expect to hear from their partners at least once a day. 11% expect to have hourly communication through their digital device and 35% expect to hear something every few hours. The comprehensive research was carried out with over 1,000 teenagers online and also included 12 focus groups and 4 online focus groups. Interestingly findings for expectations for communication between teenage romantic partners were consistent across gender, demographic groups and age.

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