Skip over navigation

Journal Issue: Children and Computer Technology Volume 10 Number 2 Fall/Winter 2000

Children and Computers: New Technology - Old Concerns
Ellen Wartella Nancy Jennings

A View Toward the Future

Children’s actual experiences with previous media often have fallen short of the early visions of the promise of the technology when first introduced, and quality-of-content issues that have been raised across all media persist today. To help ensure that this latest wave of media technology is developed in ways that best serve the needs of children, further research is needed to examine the effects of children’s media use, especially in out-of-school environments, and to help inform the creation of better-quality content. Better specification of the concept of “interactivity,” for example, would enable content developers to create more targeted programming to support cognitive growth and learning for children of different ages.

In addition, efforts to improve content must address the structure of the media industry and the larger institutional arrangements that have given rise to the media culture in the United States—issues that have been largely ignored in the past.50 The content of media is not likely to change unless the underlying economic incentives for producing media are addressed. To this end, new partnerships between academics, content providers, and government are needed to create new incentives for developing higher-quality media that builds on what has been learned about media effects on children. We must challenge society to create cultural products that are entertaining as well as educationally beneficial, and to do so without further commercialization of our children. If we produce the very best content possible, perhaps we can move closer to harnessing the potential of new media to enhance children’s emotional and cognitive lives in wonderful new ways.