|Type of paper:||Literature review|
|Categories:||Psychology Languages Media Child development Behavior change Cognitive development|
When children play with their toys, background television has always created some sort of interference. Researchers have studied the effects of background television on young children when they play with their toys. In fact, prior research has determined that background television is disruptive to the play time of very young children as it makes them unable to concentrate on their activity. One of these articles is "The Effects of Background Television on the Toy Play Behavior of Very Young Children" by Schmidt, Pempek, Kirkorian, Lund, & Anderson (2008). While this article produces results that background adult television is disruptive on very young children's behavior, it has limitations related to its sample, the method used, results, and generalizability of results.
Schmidt, Pempek, Kirkorian, Lund, & Anderson (2008) conducted a study examining the effects of background adult television on toy play of very young children. In their study, they use 50 young children (1 black, two Hispanic, and 47 white) aged 12-24 months. They hypothesize that background adult television is indeed disruptive to very young children when they play with their toys. Researchers use the term background television to refer to adult content, which a child younger than two years is unable to comprehend. For the study, researchers cumulated 100 parents to survey their children's exposure to background television as they play with their toys. The parents made the children play with their toys for one hour. In the first set of the hour, which is 30 minutes, the television was on playing a game show. During the remainder of the 30 minutes, the television was off. Researchers noticed that when the television was on, the toy play time of the young children reduced significantly. On the other hand, when the television was off, the children looked at the television for a few seconds then continued with their play time.
Based on the article, researchers found conclusive results. However, there are limitations to those findings. First, the sample size was too small considering the nature of the study. The distribution of the sample size was uneven. Since many parents are used to giving their young children toys to play with as they watch television or leave the television on, a large sample size of above 50 children would be useful. In fact, a larger sample size would have aided in data analysis. That small sample size could affect the generalizability of findings to other very young children populations. On a broader perspective, larger sample sizes usually approximate the population. Smaller sample sizes tend to result in higher variability, which eventually lead to bias. Furthermore, seemingly, all participants were from one state. That factor, as well, limits the generalizability of findings to other very young children population. More to the point, the researchers would have leveled the races of the children to bring out more conclusive results. In the study, they only used 1 Black, 2 Hispanics, and 47 Whites. Based on the results, a reader can easily deduce that whites are easily distracted by background television compared to Hispanics and Blacks. In the article, Schmidt, Pempek, Kirkorian, Lund, & Anderson (2008) affirmed that the study is a first step towards understanding the way background television programs affect the development of very young children. However, they fail to explain how their sample size and criteria for choosing the participants limited their study.
The method used for the study is the observation method. Schmidt, Pempek, Kirkorian, Lund, & Anderson (2008) asserted that a child might suspend play to see whatever is going on in the television because of the auditory changes that take place when a program is ongoing. In the room where researchers conducted the study, two digital video cameras were placed and an observer was in another room observing the behavior of the children as the game show played and them playing with their toys. This observation method is sketchy because the observer could easily misinterpret findings. Normally, children are disrupted by anything that moves in their surroundings. To expound on that, generalizability made by the observation method is unreliable. For example, the observer could have a personal bias in a way that even if a child tilts his or head, the observer would automatically assume that the child is affected by the background television. This would, in turn, create difficulty in making generalizations in the observation method. Besides that, as the article suggests, only one observer was in another room looking at the children's behavior using a monitor. Since there was only one experimenter in the other room, it can be deduced that there could be a lack of competence from the observer, which may or may not hamper with the reliability and validity of the observation process. The lack of validity and reliability could affect the generalizability of findings. More so, in the study, researchers only used one game show, Jeopardy. To come up with more conclusive results, they would have incorporated various game shows as well as other television programs over time. The fact that they only used one game show could affect the generalizability of results significantly. Most importantly, 1 hour was very little to conduct meaningful and accurate observation. The experimenter would have extended the time or done the research over days to come up with results where generalizations could be easily made.
In the study, researchers used the analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical model to analyze the differences among group means in their sample population. In the results section, Schmidt, Pempek, Kirkorian, Lund, & Anderson (2008) asserted that the dependent measures in the ANOVA were the percentage of paly, mean length of focused play, and the average maturity of play at each level. Researchers did all of the reporting of the hypothesis by referencing table 1, 2, 3, and 4. The dependent measures in the results section included looking at television, play episodes, focused attention, and maturity. All three measures are mentioned in the researcher's hypothesis. However, it is unclear why they failed to reference the maturity of toy play in their hypothesis.
Overall, this article focuses on an important topic, which is the cognitive and language development of young children. There is no doubt that the study has merit. Television has always had an impact on the play time of very young children as it interferes with their level of concentration. However, the method and sample size have to be re-evaluated. The study could gain more power by increasing the sample size, creating a balance of the participant's races, and adding more observers to make conclusive findings from the participants. Addition of all those factors would change the meaningfulness of the study by a larger extent. Regarding their method, even though the observation method alone could not produce conclusive results, it was great that experimenters combined the method with questionnaires where they asked parents to fill them out and talk about their children's media use. The generalizability of this study is fairly low because of limitations in its sample size and method incorporated. The results would not be generalizable beyond the 50 participants used to conduct the study. Detailed future research on the effects of background television and childhood toy play on cognitive and language development is necessary to provide sufficient evidence on its impact.
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