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Statement of the Problem
The main research question that will be covered in my thesis is, ‘Does exposure to television or video media affect the development of infants and children aged 0-3 years?’ The impact of media exposure to infants below 3 years is an under-researched topic, despite the fact that more than 70% of infants in the age bracket of 0-3 years are exposed to television/video media on a daily basis. However, there have been concerns that such early exposure may have a negative impact on the development of infants, although such concerns lack a strong research backing. This research is important since it will provide an opportunity to answer this important question whilst providing recommendations for future research on the topic.
Since the advent of television in the 1950s, the number of households that own a television set has reached more than 90% in the USA alone. Across the world, the figure is also high. A lot of research has focused on the impact of exposure to television media on various age groups. For instance, there is an overwhelming support on the potential benefits of educational and entertainment media content to pre-school children based on their cognitive and language development. However, for a longtime, research on 0-3 year-old age group has been ignored or has attracted little interest from researchers who assert that children at such an age cannot decipher the content of the media and that there cannot be impacts on their development.
An extensive body of scholars reveals undesirable consequences of unproductive media material introduction to kindergarten and school-going kids on their future life results such as cognition, conduct, and accomplishment. In addition, emerging studies on the impact of media exposure to children below 3 years also suggest negative impacts, although researches are overly inconclusive and open for further research to strengthen their assertions. The researches have also failed to include detailed information on the correlation between media content and the impacts that occur on infants. As such, in order to understand the impacts of media exposure on infants below 3 years, there is a need to carry out more research that addresses specific questions of research that have not been addressed.
These topics should include the impact of television and video media exposure on cognitive development and attention capacity. They should also clarify whether the content of media can be linked to specific developmental issues. This research is important since it strives to create an understanding of the potential impacts or lack thereof of media exposure on the three identified areas, namely cognition, attention, and content of the media on infants of 0-3 years. The research will also make important recommendations that will guide the way forward for further research in the given areas.
Although the bulk of research has focused on the impact of media exposure on pre-school and school aged children, a substantial amount of literature has also focused on infants below 3 years of age. However, the research has acted to bring awareness on the need for more studies to be carried on this potentially vulnerable group, which for a long time was not thought to be affected by exposure to media. The claim was that infants learn through experience and that television or video content has no bearing at all on their development.
According to Christakis (2009), the human brain develops rapidly until it eventually triples in size by the age of 2 years. Issues such as the rapid growth and the relevance of external stimulation during the period are an important factor and cause for concern on whether exposure to TV and video media has any impact on the development of the young ones. To address the questions of the research, my thesis draws heavily from the existing research.
The first research study that will be relied on is titled, ‘The Effects of Infant Media Usage: What Do We Know and What Should We Learn?’ by Dimitri Christakis. In this study, Christakis tries to analyze what previous studies have found concerning the impact of television and media exposure with an aim of discussing the relevance of such information. The aim of the study by Christakis is to pool together the findings of various researches and then recommend the way forward for such research. The study covers four areas of media exposure to infants that have been previously researched. The study discusses the effects of television exposure on infant language development.
The author takes to task the increased television content that seeks to help children develop language skills. According to Christakis (2009), overwhelming research, which is supported by theories of infant language development, indicates that language development is greatly influenced by native speakers who subsequently regard parenting as an important part of the language development process. The study concludes that the existing research does not support any positive impact of TV exposure on language development. Rather, it suggests the opposite.
The study also discusses the effect of TV exposure on infant cognitive development. According to Christakis (2009), although many proponents of media exposure to infants suggest a positive impact, their claims are not backed by a strong research. At most, such claims have been used as marketing tools for TV programs that focus on this age group. On the contrary, the study finds a negative correlation between exposure to TV content and cognitive development of pre-school and school-aged children. However, there is a need to extent the research to cover infants who are also being exposed to media because of their little awareness of the consequences of such contents on their cognitive development.
Lastly, the study covers TV exposure on infants and its possible effects on their attention capacity. Drawing from previous researchers, the study asserts that early exposure to TV may be linked to the increased cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in the US. This claim borrows from the argument that early exposure to media can have a bearing on brain development of children and consequently far reaching consequences that may include ADHD. The research concludes that there is still more space for further research to address the topic comprehensively.
The second research that will be relied on in this thesis will be, ‘Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development’ by Tomopoulos, Dreyer, Berkule, Fierman, Brockmeyer, and Mendelsohn (2010). The research focuses on the impact of media exposure on children below three years of age. The research, which uses human subjects to test its hypothesis, arrives at an important conclusion (Tomopoulos et al., 2010).
For instance, the research finds that media content is an important factor when researching on impact of media exposure on children. According to the study, non-violent and violent media exposure at 6 months has negative impacts on children’s cognitive development at 14 months. However, the exposure to educational and non-educational child-focused content does not have such an impact. There is a need for further research to be carried on this area to support or disapprove the findings of the research.
The last research that will be relied on is, ‘Associations between Content Types of Early Media Exposure and Subsequent Attention Problems’ by Zimmerman and Christakis. The research is relevant to my research since it focuses on the impact of different media contents on attention capacity development in children below 3 years (Frederivk & Dimitri, 2007). The research supports the findings of the previous research by Tomopoulos and Colleagues by pointing out that the content of media exposure is a key factor in determining the kind of impact that such exposure has on infant development.
In this research, primary and secondary data sources will be relied on to answer the questions of the research. However, being a meta-analysis research, the study will rely heavily on previous researches on the topic. The study will include the analysis of the above-mentioned literature sources in addition to other relevant previous researches that will support the assertions of the study. For primary data, the study will include the use of questions and interviews that will be targeted at experts in the field of human development to shed more light on different areas of focus that will be identified
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Outline of the Argument
The study will confirm that there lacks comprehensive and satisfactory research on the impact of media exposure to children below 3 years of age, despite the fact that children in this age bracket are being exposed to media. Hence, it will verify the need to understand the effects that such a trend has on infant development in cognition, attention capacity, and the correlation between the media content and developmental impacts. Consequently, by studying these areas, the research will provide important knowledge on how media can be used effectively to ensure maximum benefits and minimum negative impacts on infant development if such benefits or negative effects exist.
The study will use a theoretical framework that draws from different theories of infant development, including Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, Piaget’s theory of infant development, and Freud’s psychosexual stage development. These theories are important in understanding the developmental stages of infants and applying their principles to understand how and why media can have specific impacts or no impacts on children below 3 years. The other framework will be a conceptual structure that will be concerned with how the ideas of the research will be conceptualized to build a strong case. The following diagram summarizes the conceptual framework that will be used in the study.
Chapter/ Section Outline
The research will start with a background description of the base for the research that will include an analysis of what the previous research has covered and what it has not. This plan will be important in justifying the relevance of the research. The research will then address each question where it will rely on both primary and secondary data sources to support the assertions. Lastly, the study will conclude with research findings and recommendations for future research.
Contribution of the Research
This study will contribute to the growing knowledge concerning the effects of infant exposure to media on their development in terms of cognition and attention capacity. It will also shed light on whether the content of media is a determinant of the effects of media exposure to the 0-3 year-old age group.
Christakis, D. (2009). The effects of infant media usage: what do we know and what should we learn? Acta Paediatrica , 98(2), 8-16.
Frederivk, J., & Dimitri, C. (2007). Associations between Content Types of Early Media Exposure and Subsequent Attention Problems. Pediatrics , 120(3), 984-993.
Tomopoulos, S., Dreyer, B., Berkule, S., Fierman, A., Brockmeyer, C., & Mendelsohn. (2010). Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine , 164(12), 1105-1111.