Good Example Of Contemporary Childhood Report
Communication through symbols was gradually replaced with the invention of new tools like pens and pencils. Schools, offices and all other institutes were engrossed in using these writing tools where paper got its own related importance. Today, pens and crayons have transformed into human fingers and hands where as computers and tablets have taken the place of paper. Does this mean the world is progressing at a very fast pace? Or does it leave an underlying message of keeping the children away from the act of holding a pen? To understand this side of technology (Montgomery, 2000), the current paper incorporates two papers exploring the discipline of popular culture, media and technology in relation to the children of this society.
Previous literature review
Literacy during early years has been a topic of wide interest. Various studies have investigated this realm by comparing the old idea of teaching and learning by negating the impact of advanced technology on literacy (Montgomery, 2000). For this reason, the work by Marsh (2006) tends to investigate the difference in literacy between girls and boys with respect to the role of new technology at home and in an educational setting. The attainment level of boys and girls vary when it comes to reading and writing. This is also conspicuous from the results of national tests. The difference was previously attributed to race. With time, researchers proposed that the use and access of new technology especially at home and at early settings and schools, also played a major role in the poor performance of boys (Marsh, 2006).
With the use of new technologies in the form of computer, television, mobile phones, consoles and tablets, the practices of children (aged 0 to 6 years) have been digitalized (Buckingham, 1993). Marsh (2006) talks about the various roles that individuals adhere to that describe the way they carry out their practices of communication in the digitalized world of today. These include the role of a designer, mediator, bricoleur and jammer. A text mediator is a person who summarizes the viewpoints of others. This is demonstrated by the example of blogging and commenting on blogs. In contrast, a jammer critically analyzes texts by modifying the actual document. A bricoleur refers to a number of different texts and consequently creates a new piece whereas the fourth role is ‘text designer’. Marsh (2006) found that from a very early age, girls were seen to create text from prints on computers and mobile phones. Such practices made them text bricoleur and designers till the time they reached pre-school period. A mother of a 4-year old girl expressed that her child was able to develop independent skills by the use of computer several times in a week. Same was the case reported by another mother. However, a very different picture was coherent in an early setting because of no use of computers at the school. Upon interviewing, teachers exclaimed that the setting had very limited and outdated computers. Apart from computers, televisions are also seen to play an important role in the life of children. Parents tell that children get to watch dramas with their families so that they learn the ritualistic principles and their cultural heritage. In this way, the digital technology prepares a child to be a competent adult who does well in education and adheres to the cultural values and rituals (Marsh, 2006).
The attainment level of literacy differs on the basis of gender. The access to new technology at home gives girls an upper hand in quick transition to the new forms of literacy as compared to boys who show disinterest in the literacy curriculum. It is not only because of the availability of computers, televisions and mobile phones at home, it is also because of the shortcomings of the early settings (Luke & Luke, 2001). These institutes are still at a distance from incorporating new technology into their curriculum that fulfills the needs of girls and boys respectively. This is also obvious from the fact that the infrequent computer use of girls restricts them from excelling in this field in the future (Lankshear & Knobel, 2004).
Consequently, the age of today has made teachers re-think literacy. Although schools focus on print, the children of today are in constant interaction with print and non-print material in and out of school. Technology is therefore, transforming the way students communicate and the manner in which they learn. Schools are now able to integrate tablets and computers in the teaching and learning environment, making the process more personalized and digitalized (Lankshear & Knobel, 2004). Incorporating new technology in the modern classroom helps students collaborate with inside and outside the classroom where kids are attracted to this new form of learning. In this way, performance is improved. To further examine this topic, the current paper will incorporate a comparison between two studies.
Two studies in focus
Since this paper has already introduced the idea of impact and the use of media, popular culture and new technologies on children, the current text incorporates a coherent picture of this realm by placing its focus on two studies. One of them titled as ‘Digital beginnings: Young children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies’ by Jackie Marsh, Greg Brooks, Jane Hughes, Lousie Ritchie, Samuel Roberts and Katy Wright, written in 2005. By emphasizing upon children between 0 to 6 years along with 524 practitioners, the study explored the role of practitioners in using media and new technologies in teaching and learning. The other study titled as ‘From Snow white to Digimon: Using popular media to confront Confucian values in Taiwanese peer cultures’ by Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004), aims at exploring young children of Taiwanese culture and the manner in which these children incorporated popular media with their peers. The children also used the popular media to explore, practice and resist the Confucian values. Hence, a comparative analysis of these two studies will be conducted to show the use of popular culture, media and technologies at home and in the classroom.
Discussion about methodologies
The two studies differ on the basis of the research paradigms. The study by Marsh et al (2005) is based on a positivist paradigm as it undertakes a quantitative approach. In contrast, the study by Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) has an anti-positivist approach where the study is more of an ethnographic research.
The research by Marsh et al (2005) drew a stratified random sample from 10 of the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) across England that represents various types and geographical locations. 200 maintained and non-maintained studies were also a part of the study. Data was collected through questionnaires that were completed by parents, caretakers and practitioners. The research analyzed the responses received from 1852 parents and 524 practitioners. Results show a similarity with the children use of media in USA reflecting the underlying idea that the results can accurately be applied to a wider population. The other half of this study undertook an action research strategy that aimed at analyzing the aspect of popular culture, media and new technologies in the foundation stage of literacy, communication and curriculum. A randomly selected focus group was the target of this phase. Interviews and observations were also incorporated in the study by Marsh et al (2005), thereby giving it a mixed approach and undertaking a similar methodology like the work of Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) that is an epitome of ethnography. The study by Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) has a different methodology than the prior because the researcher was presenting thorough out all the observation procedures. In this way, by adding in different variables, the researcher was able to achieve the main purpose of the study. While teachers and children were seen to respond through surveys and interviews in the research of Marsh et. al (2005), children were seen to be active participants in the work of Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004). In their work, the teachers formulated specific activities and exercises to bring peers and classmates closer to each other and the instructor also incorporated Confucian values in the learning environment. Children sat together and took naps together. Moreover, the Confucian values were integrated into classroom activities; teachers explicitly taught children to think about obedience and other such family values.
While the work by Marsh et al (2005) specifically outlines the use of media, new technologies and popular culture in maintained and non-maintained settings by focusing on its impact on child performance, Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) have concentrated their work on a limited aspect of values and media. In other words, they have not taken an extensive approach of analyzing the role of new technologies, media and popular culture like the strategy used by Marsh et al (2005). Nonetheless, both the works show that the impact of media, new technologies and popular culture on children is not restricted to a particular culture and the effect is universal.
Media and popular culture was seen to dominate young children especially in the Taiwanese culture where toys, school bags, lunch boxes and other such accessories belonged to famous TV lines such as Pokemon, Digimon and Hello Kitty. Not only this, the school also added into the impact of media and popular culture by placing toys and showing videos of cartoons like Snow White, that dominated the media (Barker, 1997). This knowledge was also seen to be implemented in the peer relationship of these Taiwanese children as conspicuous through their reading, writing, drawing, physical play and enactment. All these actions were often in line with the Confucian values that were taught by the teachers (Kathryn & Sandy, 2004). Taiwanese children were seen to be greatly influenced by the media that was visible through their play in which they enacted Hello Kitty and Digimon characters (Kathryn & Sandy, 2004). During their play, the children did not only demonstrate their knowledge about these media characters, but their understanding on the Confucian values of being a good peer and a good person was coherent throughout their activity. Their concern for peers, their understanding of family and their nature of generosity were all in line with their favorite media roles. In contrast, the work by Marsh et al (2005) talks about the manner in which children is exposed to the media, popular culture and new technologies from birth. In other words, the use of these facets begins from home. Parents become the reason for this from which, children learn cultural and social values. Parents are therefore of the opinion, that media, popular culture and new technologies contribute in the well balanced life of children. While the use of media promotes acts of reading, writing and communicating, the engagement with popular culture and new technologies is usually social and not individual. In other words, children come across the medium of new technologies and culture via social interaction and in social space. By looking at the manner in which media, new technologies and popular culture help children interact, communicate and explore the world, parents are in favor of exposing their kids to popular culture, media and new technologies, and are also determined to integrate it in the school curriculum. Although, the practitioners of early years settings also have similar views especially about the way games and consoles help child performance, they often show concern about the time being invested and wasted due to these activities. As a matter of fact, practitioners often use popular culture in their literacy curriculum, but overlook incorporating media and new technologies. However, since integrating popular culture, new technologies and media aid the progress of children by motivating him to perform better in areas of speech and various forms of communication, practitioners must integrate this into their curriculum (Marsh et al., 2005). As reported by Marsh et al (2005), the non-maintained settings lack the required software and hardware to include media and new technologies in their settings. For this reason, care must be taken in this area for improving student performance.
In conclusion, this paper has analyzed the works of Marsh et al (2005) and Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) on the realm of child use of popular culture, media and new technologies. While both the works have talked about the underlying fact that exposure to popular culture, media and new technologies start from birth as directed by parents and other family members, the authors have adopted a different line of approach. Despite working upon children of the same age group and by interviewing parents and teachers, Kathryn Gold Hadley and Sandy Kawecka Nenga (2004) have limited their approach to the use of media and its relation with Confucian values in the Taiwanese culture. The study shows that a similar situation is also seen in the American society, making the findings universal. In contrast, Marsh et al (2005) have extended their work by incorporating the use of popular culture, media and new technologies in maintained and non-maintained settings, and have also focused on the manner in which the proper enactment of new technologies and popular culture is missing from the literacy curriculum. Hence, the studies coherently depict the positive side of integrating media, popular culture and new technologies into the curriculum as it aids in the progress of the child by making him excel in communication, reading, writing and integration. Not only this, these facets have a strong effect on building up social, familial and cultural values in children that will strengthen with time. Early years setting must therefore, incorporate of popular culture, media and new technologies into their curriculum in order to prepare the children for the future age of technology.
Barker, C. (1997) ‘Television and the Reflexive Project of the Self: Soaps, Teenage Talk and Hybrid Identities’, British Journal of Sociology 48(4): 611–28.
Buckingham, D. (1993) Children Talking Television: The Making of Television Literacy. London: Falmer Press.
Hadley, G., K., & Nenga, K., S. (2004). From Snow white to Digimon: Using popular media to confront Confucian values in Taiwanese peer cultures. Childhood 11(4): 515-536.
Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2004). A Handbook for Teacher Research: From design to Implementation. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press
Marsh, J. (2006). New literacies, old identities: Girls’ experiences of literacy and new technologies at home and school, Paper presented at ESRC-funded Seminar Series: Girls and Education 3-16: Old Concerns, New Agendas
Luke, A., & Luke, C. (2001). Adolescence Lost/ Childhood regained: On Early Intervention and the Emergence of the Techno-Subject, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 1(1): 91-12
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Marsh, J., Brooks, G., Hughes, J., Ritchie, L., Roberts, S., & Wright, K. (2005). Digital beginnings: Young children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies funded by BBC Worldwide and Esmee Fairbairn Education. Literacy Research Centre: 1- 158.