TV and videos can be good for young children

New research carried out by the University of Sheffield has shown that television, video and other elements of the media and popular culture can have a positive impact on the lives of young children from birth to six years old. The study found that children are immersed in new technologies and the media from the day they are born, and that contrary to popular opinion they can play an important role in childhood development and can be used to great effect to promote early learning in children.

The research, which was carried out by Dr Jackie Marsh from the University's School of Education, is being published in an online report titled 'Digital Beginnings: Young Children's Use of Popular Culture, Media and New Technologies.' The study took place from September 2004 to July 2005 and involved a survey of over 1,800 parents and carers of children who attend 120 nurseries and other early years settings across England.

The majority of parents and carers surveyed said that their young children used media such as television and video for entertainment, but it did not overwhelm their time. Furthermore, parents and carers also reported that children's use of such media is usually active rather than passive, social rather than solitary, and often promotes the development of skills such as speaking, listening and reading.

The educational and developmental benefits of technology and media for very young children were also highlighted by the study, which included a survey of over 500 people who work with very young children in educational and care environments. This survey found that using popular culture, media and new technology as a learning aid had a positive effect on young children's motivation and engagement in classrooms and nurseries.

Dr Jackie Marsh, author of the study, said: "Children are immersed in popular culture, technology and the media from a very early age, and the study suggests that this influence can be positive factor in development and learning. All too often people make the assumption that children's use of media and new technologies is in some way 'unhealthy', but the parents and carers I surveyed found that when used in a measured way, they can be extremely useful tools to teach vital life and social skills."

Notes for Editors: Dr Jackie Marsh's study, 'Digital Beginnings: Young Children's Use of Popular Culture, Media and New Technologies' was funded by BBC Worldwide and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation,

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Jackie Marsh, please contact Danielle Reeves, media relations officer, on 0114 222 5339 or email