"Iene Miene Media" 2018 study on media education of young children

  • Awareness
  • 26/10/2018
  • Dutch Safer Internet Centre

In the Netherlands, 45 per cent of parents think that children learn by watching videos on their smartphone or tablet by themselves, while that is not the case. That is what the 2018 "Iene Miene Media" research shows. 

The study was presented during the start of the "Media Ukkie" campaign on media education of toddlers and pre-schoolers. Young children keep coming into contact with tablets and smartphones earlier. They watch videos, often alone. "Your child does not learn from this", says Krista Okma, parenting expert. "Watching videos is only educational when you talk to your child about what they see on the screen. For example, ask them: ‘Who also has a cat, like in the video?'". To support parents with media education, Mediawijzer.net has introduced the "Digi ABCD" with concrete tips that help parents make an immediate difference.

Children aged 0-6 still need help when using digital media. They do know how to "swipe" on a touch screen, or how to close an annoying pop-up, but those skills do not make them media literate. More than four in ten parents (44 per cent) think that their child recognises advertisements on the screen. Furthermore, one third of parents expect their child to understand that videos are not always real. However, this is not the case; children only understand the difference between real and fake after the age of 7. That is also the age when children start realising how people try to influence each other. That is also why children do not recognise advertising up to that age.

Parents overestimate the understanding and skills of their children. Young children still have difficulty understanding what they see on screen. As Krista Okma puts it, "children aged 0-6 can not differentiate between real and fake. That's why it is important to watch videos together. This is when you can explain what is good and bad behaviour, and soothe them in case of scary images. That is important for your child's development."

The study shows that many young children (46 per cent) watch television, play videos and use apps just before dinnertime. According to Krista Okma, "it's a handy way of entertaining your children by media while you are cooking. With a simple tip, you can make sure that your child is watching good content. Before you start cooking, create a folder with videos and apps that you have seen and used before. There is no harm in leaving your child alone with it in this case. The repetition teaches your child to recognise the structure of a story and discover new things. Repetition may seem boring, but it is actually good for the child's development."

Parents have many questions

The 2018 edition of the "Iene Miene Media" research shows that parents still have many questions about media education. For example, four out of ten parents want to know how they can assure their child's online safety, how they can best help their children in using media, and how they can keep their screen use under control.

To support parents in media education, Mediawijzer.net has developed the Digi ABCD for young children (website in Dutch), in collaboration with parenting experts. The Digi ABCD was launched during the "Media Ukkie Dagen" and gives parents tips on how to guide their children in the online world. In developing the tool, the competence model and MediaDiamond ("MediaDiamant") were used as sources. Krista Okma says that "the tool provides very practical tips, with which we can answer parents' most important questions and take away any misconceptions. For example: you can teach your child that he or she can stop media themselves. They need your guidance in this. A timer or alarm on your phone helps you and your child keep track of time. When the alarm rings: time's up!" She concludes: "let's not forget that parents are going about media education better and better. With some small adjustments, parents can really profit. The Digi ABCD helps."

Find all information and downloads here (in Dutch).

Other interesting research results

  • By far, the most intense media use takes place around dinnertime. This was also the case in preceding years. The ratio before and after dinner has changed: this is the first year that there is more media use before (46 per cent) than after dinner (35 per cent). 23 per cent of children use media shortly before bedtime. This is also the hardest moment for parents to set boundaries.
  • Young children come into contact with tablets and smartphones at a younger age. Almost six out of ten children aged 0-2 already play with these devices. That is an increase of 7 per cent in comparison to 2017.
  • Most tablets children use contain few apps for them. Half of parents have installed a maximum of three.
  • One out of six children up to the age of 6 has a television in the bedroom. In big cities, this number is even higher with a television in a quarter of children's rooms.
  • Parents with a migration background think more often that they have to co-watch television and videos (46 per cent compared to 34 per cent) and explain things when necessary (62 per cent compared to 47 per cent) than parents without a migration background. This shows that parents with a migration background are better prepared to guide their children in using media.
  • Books are read in 82 per cent of families with young children. For children's language development, reading books (aloud) is very important.
  • 60 per cent of parents prefer "regular" toys, but at the same time realise that contact with digital media is essential to be prepared for the future (also 60 per cent), highly educated parents even more so (67 per cent).

About the research

The "Iene Miene Media" research is a yearly recurring study by Mediawijzer.net concerning the latest developments in media use in families with young children. The research was conducted in February and March 2018, among 1,026 parents of children aged 0-6 in the Netherlands. It was conducted by The Choice Marktonderzoek & Advies, commissioned by Mediawijzer.net.

To learn more, read the full study (in Dutch) on the Mediawijzer.net website, along with extra documents.

Find out more information about the work of the Dutch Safer Internet Centre (SIC), including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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