The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Take a peek into the ‘Parent Portal’!

This March the CMF launches its Parent Portal, a guide to current research on children’s media available to everyone.

Colin Ward reports...

The CMF has been working with Professor Lydia Plowman of the University of Edinburgh to produce an overview of current research into children’s media consumption. The results of that work will be published on the new ‘Parent Portal’ on March 10th and we thought you might enjoy a sneak preview.
The project began with six questions CMF identified as being of particular interest to parents. These ‘Big 6’ came out of a parent survey and online focus group conducted on our behalf by the Dubit research agency in Leeds. As it turned out, the questions that most concerned parents were focused around the impact of children’s media on their social life and development, two areas that are notoriously hard to research. We made a decision to tackle the controversy head on and provide parents with a summary of the best research available.  Further questions and answers will be added over time.
So what are the questions? Here is the full list.

  • Is screen-based media bad for children?
  • Will playing violent video games make my child more aggressive?
  • Will spending too much time in front of a screen affect my child’s social skills?
  • What are the possible risks associated with my child going online?
  • Will spending too much time in front of a screen affect my child’s education?
  • Why aren’t there more high quality children’s TV programmes?

Now, just in case you feel tempted to fire off an email expressing your frustration, we do appreciate that some of those questions are almost impossible to answer, and some may well be the ‘wrong’ questions to ask. But our research tells us those are the questions that concern parents. So the ‘Parent Portal’ will attempt to give some answers where possible, or explain why it is impossible to answer the question, if that’s the case.
For example, take the question about the impact of violent video games on children’s behaviour. In our summary, we acknowledge that there is research, mainly from the United States, suggesting a statistical link between some video games and higher levels of anger and aggression. But we also point out there is no evidence for any causal link. We emphasise that much of this research has been questioned and that no one has ever proven a link between a video game and any act of violence in the real world. And to balance out the summary, we also reference studies that suggest certain video games may increase pro-social behaviour.
Our hope is that the tone of these pages will raise the quality of the debate around children’s media and encourage parents to see these questions in a different light. The truth is there are no simple, definitive answers and it is highly unlikely research will ever provide them. But that’s not to say parents shouldn’t be concerned about the type of media content their children are consuming; indeed, parents and guardians need to make their own judgements, based on their assessment of the media content and the way their own, highly individual child is likely to respond. The Portal will give you an opportunity to do just that.

Take your sneak preview now!

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)