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Children Not Using Tablets for Educational Purposes

Update Date: Jan 24, 2014 09:39 AM EST

With so many handheld devices available, such as smartphones and tablets, owning one is almost inevitable. Families tend to allow young children to use tablets for what they believe to be educational purposes. However, according to a new study, researchers found that children between the ages of two and 10 barely use these devices for activities that would be considered educational. Instead, children are using electronic screens for television and games.

For this study conducted by the nonprofit research institute, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which is affiliated with the Sesame Workshop that produces "Sesame Street," the researchers surveyed 1,577 parents of children between the ages of two and 10. The surveys were administered online between June 28 and July 24 with the help of research company, GfK.

Based from the answers, the researchers found that toddlers ages two to four spent a little over two hours per day in front of some kind of screen. Of the two hours, one hour and 16 minutes was spent doing something educational. The team found that as children grew up, however, the amount of time they spent doing something educational on the devices fell. For children between eight and 10, they spent over two and a half hours on the screen and only 42 minutes of it was spent for educational purposes.

"I feel like with the educational content of television, the bottom drops out of it after age 5 or 6. It's a bummer, and I've looked out for it," Athena Devlin, a professor of women's and American studies at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY said reported by the New York Times. "It would be nice if they could get pleasure out of something that also taught them something."

When the researchers examined the role of income, they found that lower-income families reported that their children spent more time doing something educational on their devices. The researchers calculated that families with an income lower than $25,000 said that their children spent 57 percent of their screen time for educational reasons. For families earning $50,000 to $90,000, the percentage fell to 38.

"It's far too easy for the best stuff only to be available for the kids who already have many opportunities," said report author Vicki Rideout. "And to flip into content that has the gloss of education on it, without the substance, for the kids who are in need."

The report can be found here.

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