Research 2: Sm(all) Change? – Report

Posted on: Friday 03 July 2015 6:16am by Tom Jordan


  • Children tend to shift from glancing to watching as they move higher up the 0-6 age bracket, although the behavioural pattern can be complicated.
  • Live TV is still hugely popular and influential in this age bracket
  • Watching TV is an active pursuit
  • Older preschool children have a need for strong narrative in programming
  • TV can provide an opportunity for learning, but social interaction is still crucial
  • ‘Fear’ is unpredictable.


Fiona Scott, postgraduate researcher from Sheffield University, presented her study into understanding and engaging a transitionary preschool television audience, looking at how engagement with TV and other media changes as a child rapidly develops.

The presentation focussed on the following areas:

  • How do children change cognitively and socially between the ages of 0 and 6?
  • How do these transitions relate to their television habits, choices, engagement and learning?
  • What are the implications of this information?
  • Headline findings of recently completed survey (1,200 UK parents) and insights from ongoing longitudinal qualitative fieldwork.

The qualitative case studies in the research also highlighted some ‘myth-busting’ statements:

  • Myth 1: Watching TV is a sedentary activity (citing the example of a three-year-old child watching Balamory whilst seated on a bicycle).
  • Myth 2: Watching TV is a solitary activity. A survey showed parents spend a lot of time watching with pre-schoolers, reducing slightly as they move up the age bracket.
  • Myth 3: Young children can’t make reality judgements about advertising. The case studies showed how some children are demonstrably aware of the concept of adverts.

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Tom Jordan

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Tom Jordan

Freelance, Writer

Tom is a freelance writer and editor based in Sheffield. He has over a decade of experience in travel publishing, writing for National Geographic Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine and CNN, among others, and editing for travel guide books. His recent focus has also been as a development editor in… Read more