Survey on Kids, Digital Media Released

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Accessing digital media has become as fundamental to a child's education as reading or math, according to three-quarters of parents polled for a new survey, but not so well on those "citizenship" and "gets along well with others" report-card categories.

Parents are "conflicted" about how that is affecting their kids and whether digital-media skills translate into communicating and working with others or being good citizens.

The survey, from Common Sense Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, was released Thursday in advance of a symposium in New York co-sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, McGraw-Hill and Electronic Arts on how to best harness digital media to help children learn and develop.

Citing the survey, Common Sense concluded that policymakers should support integrating digital media into the classroom, but also make sure to educate parents, their kids and teachers about the impact of the media, as well as doing more research into the issue. Common Sense also recommended standards for products marketed as "educational."

The study found that 75% of parents agreed that a facility with digital media was as "beneficial" to kids as reading and math, and 83% said it was critical to their success.

But when it came to greater life lessons, 67% said they did not think the Web taught kids how to communicate, 75% thought it did not teach their kids how to be socially responsible and a whopping 87% said it did not help them learn how to work with others.

In what will be bad news for younger-targeted video sites, between one-third and one-half (43%) said they discourage their kids from watching or listening to media online.

Common Sense polled 695 parents and another 245 teachers of grades 1-8 (it was an online poll to which they were recruited by phone). The teachers had a more favorable view of the educational potential of digital media than parents. In fact, 59% of teachers said parents underestimate its educational potential.

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