06 SES 04, Media Education: Parental strategies
The recent advances in technology and low costs of technological devices facilitated easy access to computer and other technologies for adults and children’s regular use (Spatariu, Peach & Bell, 2012). Among available technologies, tablets are one of the popular devices for both children and adults (Neumann, 2014). Tablets are light, convenient and easy to use (Miller & Warschauer, 2014), and even children as young as two years old are able to use tablets or similar technologies (Common Sense Media, 2013). Tablets are relatively new devices with five to six years of history in the market, and only a limited information is known about the nature and extend of tablet use and their possible effects (short term and long term effects) in children’s lives. Additionally, most of the available research in the field have conducted in the United States. However, tablets and similar touch-screen devices are popular in other countries and young children use those devices on a daily basis.
Since parents are the individuals that establish a media environment at home, their individual choices (e.g. putting a TV in the child’s bedroom, leaving the TV on in the background, how the parents use devices as a parenting tool for keeping their child busy or calming them down) determine the children’s access to the media and the amount of time the child spends with screens (Wartella, Rideout, Lauricella & Connell, 2014). Parents are the individuals who shape children’s access to media and effects of media on children (Nathanson, 2015); for this reason, it is impossible to exclude the family context where children have access to media, have engagement in other activities and in the presence of other family members (Lemish, 2015). In early childhood years, a child’s family, day care center and playground are seen as immediate environments of the children and are the examples of microsystem according to Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). Bronfenbrenner (1979) believes that human development happens as a result of progressive and mutual interactions between the person and the environment that the person has relations with. The microsystem is an environment where mostly face to face interactions of person take place in, and interpersonal relations in this level directly influence the development of the individual (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). In this comparative study, young children’s access to tablets seemed to be directly affected by their parents’ decisions, expectations or concerns regarding the tablet device. Relatedly, studies conducted in the United States and other countries indicate that the use of handheld devices like tablets differs among individual children and families (e.g. Common Sense Media, 2011 & 2013; Wartella, Rideout, Lauricella & Connell, 2014). This difference may be due to various family or child related factors or cultural differences. In addition, there is a limited number of studies focusing on the children’s tablet use in the different nations.
The main purposes of this study were to examine the nature and extent of young children's tablet use at home, and to understand parents’ decisions, expectations and concerns regarding young children’s tablet use. The United States and Turkey were considered as examples of developed and developing countries. The study aimed to address the following questions: (1) What is the nature and extent of young children's tablet use in the United States and Turkey?, (2) What are the parental decisions about young children's tablet and app use in the United States and Turkey?, (3)What are the possible indicators that influence tablet purchasing behaviors of parents in the United States and Turkey?, and (4)What are the parental expectations and concerns about young children's tablet use in the United States and Turkey?
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