Journal Feature: Children, Youths and Internet, in COMMUNICATIONS

s16134087kThe latest issue of COMMUNICATIONS: The European Journal of Communication Research (Volume 39, Number 3, 2014) is devoted to children, youth, and the internet from qualitative perspectives.  Furthermore, this theme is focused on problematic issues of children and youth online.  Guest editors for the issue are the authors of the introductory editorial.


Intro Editorial: Contextualizing children’s problematic situations online, Green, Lelia / Smahel, David / Barbovschi, Monica

Classification of online problematic situations in the context of youths’ development, Smahel, David / Wright, Michelle F. / Cernikova, Martina       

Ways to avoid problematic situations and negative experiences: Children’s preventive measures online, Vandoninck, Sofie / d’Haenens, Leen

Developing social media literacy: How children learn to interpret risky opportunities on social network sites, Livingstone, Sonia

Dealing with misuse of personal information online – Coping measures of children in the EU Kids Online III project, Barbovschi, Monica

Meeting online strangers offline: The nature of upsetting experiences of adolescent girls, Dedkova, Lenka / Cerna, Alena / Janasova, Katerina / Daneback, Kristian

“I would never post that”: Children, moral sensitivity and online disclosure, Mostmans, Lien / Bauwens, Joke / Pierson, Jo

EU’s Media Regulatory Mechanisms for Minors, a Briefing

Last month the Library of the European Parliament (“Working for a well-informed European Parliament”) published a briefing Protection of minors in the media environment: EU regulatory mechanisms.

The briefing reviews the landscape of European Union nations’ media (television, internet, and video games) regulatory policies in relation to the rights and interests of minors.

Children are increasingly exposed to online content, through a growing range of mobile devices, and at ever younger ages. At the same time, they have specific needs and vulnerabilities which need to be addressed.

Keyboard with parent & children keys

Ways to limit and prohibit the spread of illicit and harmful media content in relation to young people have been debated for many years. Striking a balance between the rights and interests of young viewers on the one hand and the freedom of expression of content providers (and adults in general) on the other, requires a carefully designed regulatory scheme.
In recent years, traditional (State) regulation has come under increased scrutiny. Gradually, less intrusive mechanisms, such as self- and co-regulation, have started replacing State regulation in a move towards user-empowerment.
This type of logic has governed the implementation of binding rules at EU level via the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. For online content and video games, the Commission supports a number of self-regulatory initiatives such as the Coalition to Make the Internet a Better Place for Kids and the Pan European Game Information System.
The European Parliament, however, considers that this type of initiative cannot replace legally binding instruments, and that only a combination of legal, technical and educational measures, including prevention, can adequately address the dangers faced by children online.

Teens and Technology 2013

Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project and the Berkman Center for Internet and; Technology have jut released their 2013 report on Teens and Technology. Read the whole 19-page report or remain blogbound with the summary here: 


Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.
These are among the new findings from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that explored technology use among 802 youth ages 12-17 and their parents. Key findings include:

  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.

“The nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically — from stationary connections tied to shared desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day,” said Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of the report. “In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.”

Findings from Ready to Learn 2005-2010

This 56-page Corporation for Public Broadcasting report addresses the literacy needs of children 2-8 and the role of public media in meeting those needs. Below is a chunk of the CPB press release of last month to which I would add: be sure to check out the extensive bibliography from the five research arms (including the University of Pennsylvania) of the study.

Findings from Ready To Learn: 2005-2010 (3.0MB PDF), developed with cooperation from Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Department of Education, an innovative initiative funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, provides definitive new evidence that shows children from disadvantaged families who interact with public media make remarkable gains in mastering the fundamentals of early literacy – letter recognition, letter sounds, and vocabulary and word meaning. In some cases, growth on targeted skills is so significant that children are able to successfully narrow or close the achievement gap with their middle-class peers.

The high-quality literacy programs and content that public media developed through Ready To Learn reach more than five million children a day at cost of less than half a penny per child – significantly less than most other early literacy initiatives.

“When it comes to reading instruction, public media has met the ambitious standard set by Congress more than four decades ago,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “This report demonstrates how public media directly and cost-effectively contributes to improving early literacy development of children living in poverty and provides data that prove the overall educational benefits of public media. Few, if any, large-scale educational media initiatives have been as successful, and none has had a greater impact on the literacy development of children from low-income backgrounds.”

“Public media reinvented children’s broadcasting, proving that television can educate while it entertains,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Today we’re expanding that innovative idea to include a growing number of media platforms, from web sites to iPhone apps and more. Under the Ready To Learn initiative, PBS KIDS Raising Readers program has developed groundbreaking series, such as SUPER WHY, Martha Speaks, and the re-launched Electric Company that are based on educational research, scientifically proven to effectively boost literacy development and other academic skills of young children, and affordable for all parents, teachers and caregivers.”

The CPB and PBS Ready To Learn grant funded a highly qualified team of educational researchers, made up of leading scholars at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, the Education Development Center, SRI International, and the American Institutes for Research, to conduct studies on Ready To Learn content, materials, resources and community engagement strategies.

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded CPB and PBS another five-year Ready To Learn grant in 2010 to focus on math concepts, continue early literacy projects and develop innovative new teaching tools, including multi-media classroom tools, augmented reality games and transmedia gaming suites.



Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds

Here’s just one finding from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s sweeping report on the media use of youth as quoted from the Press Release:

Big changes in TV. For the first time over the course of the study, the amount of time spent watching regularly-scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day (from 2004 to 2009). But the many new ways to watch TV–on the Internet, cell phones, and iPods–actually led to an increase in total TV consumption from 3:51 to 4:29 per day, including :24 of online viewing, :16 on iPods and other MP3 players, and :15 on cell phones. All told, 59% (2:39) of young people’s TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% (1:50) is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people’s media use. It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

The report was released on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, at a forum in Washington, D.C. The report itself, as well as a webcast of the event surrounding it’s release and a documentary on children’s media use can be found here.

Preschool Children’s Television Viewing in Child Care Settings

From Pediatrics, November 2009, research on the difference between preschool home-based and center-based childcare in terms of television viewing.

Article: Preschool-Aged Children’s Television Viewing in Child Care Settings

Authors: Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, and Michelle M Garrison, PhD

Objective The goal was to quantify television viewing in day care settings and to investigate the characteristics of programs that predict viewing.

Methods A telephone survey of licensed child care programs in Michigan, Washington, Florida, and Massachusetts was performed. The frequency and quantity of television viewing for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children were assessed.

Results With the exception of infants, children in home-based childcare programs were exposed to significantly more televisionon an average day than were children in center-based programs(infants: 0.2 vs 0 hours; toddlers: 1.6 vs 0.1 hours; preschool-agedchildren: 2.4 vs 0.4 hours). In a regression analysis of dailytelevision time for preschool-aged children in child care, center-basedprograms were found to have an average of 1.84 fewer hours oftelevision each day, controlling for the other covariates. Significanteffect modification was found, in that the impact of home-basedversus center-based child care programs differed somewhat dependingon educational levels for staff members; having a 2- or 4-yearcollege degree was associated with 1.41 fewer hours of televisionper day in home-based programs, but no impact of staff educationon television use was observed in center-based programs.

Teens More “Normal” Than You Think, According to Nielsen

At the annual What Teens Want Marketing conference in New York (June 24-25), The Nielsen Company presented How Teens Use Media, to a rapt audience of post (and post post)-teens. Among the findings are that while teens are madly texting away they are still solid consumers of traditional forms of media such as television, radio and even newspapers. The love their internet but actually spend less time browsing on it than adults. And don’t tell them this, but their favorite TV shows, websites and genres across media are mostly the same as their…parents.

This free report combines insights from Nielsen’s global research in television, internet, mobile, gaming, moviegoing, radio, newspaper and advertising research.

Rand Report on Effects of Adolescent Exposure to Sex on TV

Recently published research from the Rand Corporation on the effects of adolescent TV exposure to sexual content and pregnancy rates has garnered a lot of attention in the media of late. The research appears in the latest issue of Pediatrics.

Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings From a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth by A. Chandra, SC Martino, RL Collins, MN Elliott, SH Berry, and DE Kanouse, and A Miu, Pediatrics 2008;122: 1047-1054.
Objective There is increasing evidence that youth exposure to sexual content on television shapes sexual attitudes and behavior in a manner that may influence reproductive health outcomes. To our knowledge, no previous work has empirically examined associations between exposure to television sexual content and adolescent pregnancy.
Methods Data from a national longitudinal survey of teens (12-17 years of age, monitored to 15-20 years of age) were used to assess whether exposure to televised sexual content predicted subsequent pregnancy for girls or responsibility for pregnancy for boys. Multivariate logistic regression models controlled for other known correlates of exposure to sexual content and pregnancy. We measured experience of a teen pregnancy during a 3-year period.
Results Exposure to sexual content on television predicted teen pregnancy, with adjustment for all covariates. Teens who were exposed to high levels of television sexual content (90th percentile) were twice as likely to experience a pregnancy in the subsequent 3 years, compared with those with lower levels of exposure (10th percentile).
Conclusions This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between exposure to sexual content on television and the experience of a pregnancy before the age of 20. Limiting adolescent exposure to the sexual content on television and balancing portrayals of sex in the media with information about possible negative consequences might reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Parents may be able to mitigate the influence of this sexual content by viewing with their children and discussing these depictions of sex.

International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media

The International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media (formerly the UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children and Violence on the Screen) was established in 1997 by The Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research, Nordicom Göteborg University Sweden). Financed by the Swedish government and UNESCO, its website is a must-bookmark for anyone interested in research on children and media. “The Clearinghouse informs various groups of users about research on children, young people and media, with special attention to media violence research and practices regarding media education and children’s/young people’s participation in the media measures, activities and research concerning children’s and young people’s media environment.” (website)

A centerpiece of Clearinghouse activities is their yearbook. Children, Media and Consumption is this year’s offering (currently on order for ASC Reference).

Their current newsletter, News on Children, Youth and Media in the World, is available as well as an archive of all previous issues going back to its inception in 1997.

Two Reports on Children: Violent Entertainment , Food Advertising

Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Fifth Follow-up Review of the Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recordings, and Electronic Games. A Report to Congress, April 2007 Federal Trade Commission, 138 pages. The first of of these reports was issued in 2000. All previous reports are also available.


Food for Thought: Television: Food Advertising to Children in the United States, released by The Kaiser Family Foundation, is the largest study conducted of TV food advertising to children. Content analysis of TV ads & detailed data on children’s viewing habits for an estimate of the number and type of TV ads seen by children of various ages. Besides the full report which is available at the site, you can also find news releases and an overview; also a webcast of when the report was released at a forum in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, March 28, 2007. It featured U.S. Senator SamBrownback, food industry leaders, health officials and consumer advocates.