Parents, hold onto that tablet! A new study reveals an educational drop-off for children after the age of four. Turns out, toddlers to pre-schoolers watch the most educational media compared with other age groups.

As tablets have become more affordable and accessible than ever for gadget-loving consumers, that also comes with an increase of children consuming media and technology.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s findings highlight the educational apps and television options available for young children, but the market shrinks when children enter school.

toddler on tablet

Toddlers and preschoolers watch the most educational media.
Image: Shutterstock

Television shows still dominate media consumption in homes, but nearly two-thirds of children ages 2 to 10 have access to devices such as e-readers and computers.

According to the report, children ages 2 to 4 spend the most time with educational media, averaging one hour and 16 minutes a day viewing television or using online programs. The average drops to 50 minutes for 5- to 7-year-olds and 42 minutes for 8- to 10-year-olds.

“This could be a really golden age for educational media,” said researcher Vicky Rideout, who led the study, “but we have to keep our focus on really making sure we reach the kids who are most in need, that we’re really producing quality educational content, and that we’re reaching the older ones.”

Joan Ganz Cooney Center Executive Director Michael H. Levine highlighted the need of media balance especially for vulnerable children who might falter in their academic careers.

Is it too much screen time? And at what age is it too early for a child?  Those are some other concerns by child advocacy groups as television programs and apps are marketed to parents and children.

The report is the first of its kind and gives the opportunity for producers and educators to document the impact of new media on education.

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