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Parents Wary of Digital Media, Just Not in Own Home

A new report finds that many parents choose reading books and watching TV with their children over playing video games or browsing online with them. And many of those same parents are concerned about the effects of digital media on children's physical and mental well-being. But most don't believe their own children spend too much time consuming such media.

The report, from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind PBS kids show Sesame Street, also finds that parents' chief concerns about digital media are that they foster a sedentary lifestyle and may endanger their child's privacy. Parents, according to the report, appear concerned about the nature of content kids consume.

The report's findings come from a combination of two studies—a survey of about 800 parents of children ages 3 to 10, and case studies of four 7- to 8-year-old girls living in the Los Angeles area. While the report focuses mainly on parents' attitudes toward young children's interaction with digital media, those attitudes are necessary for school district personnel to understand when communicating how and why they plan to integrate such media into school culture.

Other findings from the report:
• Institutional factors (for example, parent work schedules and childcare arrangements) as well as past experience (what media parents consumed as children) shape children's experiences with digital media.
• Parents of children older than 7 are more likely to use parent control features of digital technology to control use than to set manually imposed limits.
• Most parents believe video games can help children foster skills that help academic development.
• More than a third of parents of 3- to 10-year-olds surveyed say they have learned something technical from their child.

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