Despite the prevalence of educational apps on mobile devices, too much time spent on mobile devices are actually detrimental to the study habits of children.
This was the conclusion of a study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an independent research outfit that focuses on children's education, and which created Sesame Street.
The study, titled "Learning at Home: Families' Educational Media Use in America," and authored by Victoria Rideout, is "the first comprehensive analysis of parents' experiences with the educational media their children use." The study was based on online interviews conducted with 1,577 parents, and covered the children's use of television, DVDs, video games, books, e-readers, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices at home, excluding media used specifically for homework and as required by schools.
The study found that among the 2 to 10 year-olds surveyed, 98 percent had access to television, 83 percent had access to high-speed Internet access, and 76 percent had access to a console video game player. Seventy-one percent had access to a smartphone, 55 percent to a tablet device, 50 percent to a hand-held video game player, and 41 percent to an educational gaming device. Nearly two-thirds of the 2 to 10 year-olds surveyed have access to either an e-reader or a tablet device, but only half of all children with access to it "have actually read or been read to on it."
Per the study, nearly half of the screen media that are used by 2 to 10 year-olds were considered educational by their parents, and that most parents think that their child has learned from educational media. The study also found that parents "don't believe their children learn as much from educational media about science as they do about other subject areas."
The study also detailed that children aged 8 to 10 years spend about half the time studying, compared with the studying time spent by those aged 2 to 4. Those aged 2 to 4 spent over two hours a day in front of the screen, with one hour and 16 minutes of this on educational activities. Those aged 8 to 10 spend over two and a half hours a day in in front of the screen, but only about 42 minutes of this was considered educational. Parents ranked cognitive skills, reading and vocabulary, and math as the subjects that their children learn the most when on educational media.
Parents were also surveyed on how education they think certain television shows and electronic games are. Sesame Street topped this list, as it was considered by 58 percent of the parents to be very educational. Dora the Explorer ranked second at 35 percent, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ranked third with 24 percent. Angry Birds, Minecraft and Just Dance were considered the least educational.
Perhaps the most significant finding of the study is that, since parents emerge to be the most powerful and prevalent influence on the learning habits and media exposure of children, then parents need to be more informed about educational media. Results show that "it doesn't appear that parents are particularly intentional in the way they seek out educational media for their children," yet, "the choices they make do matter."
The study concludes by outlining the things that still need to be done, such as, "the need for more compelling content for older children, the development of popular and effective educational apps... expanded efforts to reach parents with objective and reliable assessments of eth educational value of media, and continued production of high-quality educational television."