How do children perceive media?
Small children and elementary school children perceive the world and activities in their surroundings differently compared to their parents. Their attention span is still limited, and they cannot fully understand how different factors may relate to each other. Therefore, children cannot easily “filter” the media they are confronted with. Learning how experiences and images should be interpreted and put into context is part of growing up. For your child to gain important experience, all senses need to be activated for full cognitive awareness of the environment. It is therefore recommended not to confront children too early with digital media so that real life experiences do not get cut short. During the first years of life, children perceive digital media mainly as a source of irritation. Flashing lights and loud noises draw the attention of small children without them understanding the message or meaning.
It is therefore important that parents are aware of this, and that they support their children with purposeful and playful media use guidance. Especially because we are surrounded by digital media in our everyday lives, it is recommended that you live by example and reflect upon your own media use.
With growing age, the attention span of your child increases and, for example, TV shows may become more interesting. Normally, older elementary school children can already follow longer films easily and get excited by educational shows. They can tell the difference between a film and an advertising clip, and now they are receptive for advertising messages. Therefore, you should teach your child how to handle advertising properly and thus keep advancing his or her media literacy.