Dr. Jessica Taylor Piotrowski’s manuscript “How Reduced Narrative Processing Demands Impact Preschoolers’ Comprehension of Educational Television” has been selected as a top paper for the Children, Adolescents, and Media Division of the International Communication Association.  She is also a co-author of the manuscript “Background Television in Homes with Young Children” which has also been selected as a top paper for the Children, Adolescents, and Media Division of the International Communication Association (with M. Lapierre and D.L. Linebarger).

Both manuscripts will be presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association this May in Phoenix, Arizona.  Abstracts of both manuscripts are listed below.

 

How Reduced Narrative Processing Demands Impact Preschoolers’ Comprehension of Educational Television

The capacity model is designed to explain how children extract and comprehend educational content within an educational television program. The model focuses on children’s allocation of their limited cognitive resources during television viewing, with specific attention to the degree to which resources are allocated to comprehending the narrative versus the educational content. The model predicts that, when narrative processing demands are reduced, narrative comprehension should be improved.  The model also posits that these reduced narrative demands should translate to improved educational content comprehension because greater cognitive resources are available to process the content. This prediction was tested with 172 preschoolers (102 females, Mean Age = 4.2 years). Story schema skills were used to operationalize narrative processing demands. Results supported the predictions of the capacity model. Advanced story schema supported narrative comprehension, and this reduction in narrative processing demands translated to educational content comprehension. Implications for children’s television programs are discussed.

 

Background Television in Homes with Young Children

Research has shown the negative consequences associated with children’s exposure to background television. Despite this evidence, researchers do not have reliable estimates of the prevalence of background television in American homes. This study sought to address this gap by providing the first nationally representative estimates of background television exposure. American parents (N = 1454) were surveyed to determine the amount of background television that their children (ages 8 months to 8 years) are exposed to as well as isolate demographic factors associated with this exposure. We also investigated how certain home media practices are linked to exposure. Results indicate that the average American child is exposed to 232.2 minutes of background television on a given day.  Younger children and African American children are exposed to more background television. Lastly, leaving the television on while no one is viewing and children’s bedroom television ownership are associated with increased background television exposure.

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