Since the advent of Television in the 1950s, the impact of media on children has weighed heavily on the minds of policy makers, scholars and practitioners alike. Though many focus solely on the impact of the total time children spend with media, there is a large body of evidence indicating that the content of media used by children is central to understanding its influences on development and behavior. Yet, with the single exception of the Child Development Supplement (CDS) to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the content of media used by children is routinely ignored in large-scale surveys of children and youth. The objective of this proposal is to code the content of media based activities in the third wave of the Child Development Supplement (CDS III), and incorporate these data into the existing CDS public use data. We have already coded the first two CDS waves for media content derived from titles provided in the time diaries (now part of the public use data). Drawing upon this experience, we propose to develop codebooks and conduct the coding of the CDS III media data. The media use data available in the CDS represent an extraordinary opportunity for scholars to study the developmental impact of media content on a wide variety of cognitive, social and health outcomes from early childhood to late adolescence. The CDS panel has several unique and compelling features crucial to arriving at a deeper understanding of the impact of media on children: 1) appropriately weighted, the sample is representative of the US population, 2) the data are longitudinal (across ages 0-18), allowing scholars to study questions of development and change in relation to children's media use, 3) along with amount, information regarding content, social context, place and secondary activities during media use are collected via 24h time diaries, 4) media use information is collected in the context of a rich array of additional measures, including family and parenting contexts, health and well-being, social, developmental and cognitive outcomes. For scholars interested in the role of media in children's lives and the developmental implications of such media use, the CDS is a virtual treasure trove of information.
The specific aims of the project include: 1) To develop content codebooks for CDS III media activities in time diaries, 2) To code the content of the media used by children as reported in CDS III time diaries, and 3) To incorporate the coded media content data into the public use CDS data. Adding a 3rd wave of media content codes to the public use data will off scholars an extraordinary opportunity to examine issues of mediation and trajectories of content exposure not possible in any other existing data.
A great deal of evidence indicates that the impact of media on children development and behavior depends on the content of what is viewed. The media content data available in the CDS is sole source of such data available longitudinally within the context of a large scale survey. Coding the media content in the 3rd wave of CDS data will generate an extraordinary opportunity for scholars to study the developmental impact of media on a wide variety of cognitive, social and health outcomes among children and youth.