The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Research for Parents

Your questions answered...

CMF offers parents and carers concise information about their children's use of media.

The questions below were chosen from a poll conducted by research agency Dubit and the responses compiled by Edinburgh University from the most relevant and topical research available.

We cannot provide all the answers. But we hope this information about the findings of respected researchers will help you make up your own mind.

More information on how this research was conducted, and on trusting research in general is available here.

The FAQs

What sort of media might be "bad" for my children?

  • It seems likely that there are both positive and negative effects – we can’t have one without the other.
  • It has not been proven that media discourage children from exercising. Research shows that child obesity may be caused by a wide range of factors.
  • Evidence suggests that using technology after lights out may lead to tiredness and poor sleeping patterns in young people.
  • The amount of time parents spend in front of a screen can shape children’s media habits.
  • Be wary of research that makes general claims about screen-based media being ‘bad’ for children: it’s the specific content of media and the specific context of use that count.

Read more

Will playing violent video games make my child more aggressive?

  • Much of the research on the links between video games and aggression has been questioned and it has yet to be proven that playing violent video games causes young people to commit an act of violence in the real world.
  • While some studies suggest there’s a link between playing video games and higher levels of anger, aggression and guilt, others suggest that playing video games with strong social messages can have a positive impact on young people.
  • A child can be aggressive for many reasons and playing violent video games should not be considered as the only potential cause.

Read more

Will spending too much time in front of a screen affect my child's social skills?

  • Screen time seems to be increasing for children and young people of all ages but It’s difficult to make accurate estimates.
  • Some studies suggest screen time displaces other activities and has a negative impact on health and wellbeing.
  • Children use virtual worlds to engage in play similar to their offline activities, while teenagers use social media to maintain relationships and a sense of belonging.
  • Screen time can be part of a balanced range of activities for children and young people alongside other pursuits.

Read more

What are the risks associated with my child going online?

  • Parents need to be aware of the potential risks associated with online activity such as cyberbullying and accessing dangerous or inappropriate content.
  • Younger children have fewer skills than older children in dealing with dangers on the internet and are exposed to different types of risk.
  • Parents can take steps to minimise risk, such as engaging children in talking about their online activity.

Read more

Will spending too much time in front of a screen affect my child's education?

  • Internet-use and access to a computer can benefit a child’s education, especially if parents are actively involved.
  • Television and other screen-based media can be used to develop positive learning experiences for young children by prompting talk and role-play.
  • The use of mobile devices or watching television after bed time can lead to increased tiredness with a knock-on effect on performance in the classroom.
  • Playing some video games can improve attention as well as the speed of processing information.

Read more

Should I be concerned at the range of content available to my children on TV?

  • Despite the increasing number of channels offering content for children, some for 24 hours a day, there is no related increase in the number of new programmes on offer – especially programmes made in the UK.
  • There has been a steady decline in output for new and original UK-based children’s programming, with a reliance on imports and re-runs and a subsequent lack of quality and diversity.
  • There are gaps in what’s available, particularly for older children and teenagers.
  • New devices are changing the ways that young people view and experience TV programmes, so providers need to adapt to stay relevant and develop their services.
  • The economic downturn has led to a lack of investment and this has had an impact on the range of original, diverse and high quality programmes that are made available to children in the UK.

Read more

If you find this information useful please consider supporting the CMF to create more. You can sign up as a Supporter or Patron here.

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)