Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media- Second Edition
Chapter 5. The Earlier the Better: Expanding and Deepening Literacy with Young Children
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THE EARLIER THE BETTER
Expanding and Deepening Literacy with Young Children
Most children born in the U.S. in this millennium have never known a time without the Internet, cellular phones, or television.1 Practically every U.S. household has at least one television set, and about one-third of young children live in homes where the TV is on “always” or “most of the time” (Rideout, Vandewater, & Wartella, 2003, p. 4). Before most children are 6 years of age, they spend about 2 hours per day with screen media,2 something that doubles by age 8, and before they are 18, they spend approximately 6½ hours daily with all types of media (Rideout, Roberts, & Foehr, 2005).3 It is also estimated that nearly all young children in the U.S. “have products—clothes, toys, and the like—based on characters from TV shows or movies” (Rideout et al., 2003, p. 4). The implications for the amount of media enveloping today’s youth are significant when one considers current research about literacy acquisition that suggests “the early childhood years—from birth through age eight—are the most important period for literacy development” (International Reading Association & National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1998, p. 1).
Technological innovations, expansion of global media empires, and unrestricted commercial targeting of children have all contributed to an environment where today’s kids are growing up in a mediated world far different from ← 119 | 120 → that of...
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