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In , more than 17, young people aged out of foster care without permanent families.

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Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults. While states should work rapidly to find safe permanent homes for kids, on any given day children available for adoption have spent an average of about one and a half years waiting to be adopted since their parental rights were terminated.

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Sign up here: Please leave this field empty. The setting was urban. The show was ultimately broadcast on public television across America, defining a multicultural ideal at a time of racial strife. The s and s saw the growth of cable TV channels targeted at children.

With the rise of ubiquitous merchandising deals and niche content, powerful American media companies such as Disney, Turner, and Viacom figured out how to make money off young kids. Since then, however, little kids have watched less and less television; as of last spring, ratings in were down a full 20 percent from just last year. As analysts like to put it, the industry is in free fall. The cause is obvious: More and more kids are watching videos online.

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  • This might not exactly seem like a tragedy. After all, Americans watch a lot of TV. By the time Nielsen began recording how much time Americans spent in front of TV screens in —50, each household was already averaging four hours and 35 minutes a day. That number kept going up, passing six hours in —71, seven hours in —84, all the way up to eight hours in — Viewing finally peaked at eight hours and 55 minutes in — Considered purely as a medium, television seems to have little to recommend it over YouTube.

    The institutions of the 20th century shaped television into a tool for learning. At first, pretty much everybody agrees, television for kids was bad—dumb cartoons, cowboy shows, locally produced slop.

    How social media is affecting teens

    Their shallowness of thought and feeling is markedly apparent, and they display a lack of cooperation and inability to finish a task. But not much happened, and the government and TV networks generally settled into a cycle that has been described by the media scholar Keisha Hoerrner. Absent substantive oversight by regulators, in the late s the calls for change entered a new, more creative phase. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was formed in with government dollars. These shows were tremendously successful in creating genuinely educational television.

    Another study found that regular adult TV stunted vocabulary development, while high-quality educational programs accelerated language acquisition. The most fascinating study began in the s, when a University of Massachusetts at Amherst team installed video cameras in more than homes, and had those families and hundreds of others keep a written log of their media diet. The team was unequivocal about the meaning of these results: What kids watched was much more important than how much of it they watched.

    S o what message are very young kids receiving from the most popular YouTube videos today? And how are those children being shaped by the videos?


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    A crowd waves its hands in the foreground. Lights flash and stars spin in the background. Johnson told me all that movement risks distracting kids from any educational work the videos might do. For kids to have the best chance of learning from a video, Johnson told me, it must unfold slowly, the way a book does when it is read to a child. Children under 2 struggle to translate the world of the screen to the one they see around them, with all its complexity and three-dimensionality. Most important for kids under 2 is rich interaction with humans and their actual environments. Older toddlers are the ones who can get something truly educational from videos, as opposed to just entertainment and the killing of time.

    If kids watch a lot of fast-paced videos, they come to expect that that is how videos should work, which could make other educational videos less compelling and effective. ChuChu has changed over time—it has slowed the pacing of its videos, focused on the key elements of scenes, and made more explicitly educational videos. But in the wilds of YouTube, the videos with the most views, not the most educational value, are the ones that rise to the top. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is almost precisely the problem that the rest of the media world finds itself in.

    Because quality is hard to measure, the numbers that exist are the ones that describe attention, not effect: views, watch time, completion rate, subscribers. YouTube uses those metrics, ostensibly objectively, when it recommends videos. Some were sadistic or sick. Others seemed like grab bags of keywords that had been successful for more professional operations: nursery rhymes , surprise eggs , finger family , learning colors. These were videos reverse engineered from whatever someone might enter into the YouTube search box.

    The world of YouTube is vastly different from the world of broadcast television. While broadcasters in the United States and abroad are bound by rules, and the threat of punishment for breaking those rules, far fewer such regulations apply to the creators of YouTube content, or to YouTube itself. In addition to its main site, however, the company has developed an app called YouTube Kids.

    Content Ratings Reform

    Like normal YouTube, it plays videos, but the design and content are specifically made for parents and children. YouTube Kids is not available in as many countries as normal YouTube is. Little kids are responsible for billions of views on YouTube—pretending otherwise is irresponsible. In a small study, a team of pediatricians at Einstein Medical Center, in Philadelphia, found that YouTube was popular among device-using children under the age of 2.

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    Oh, and 97 percent of the kids in the study had used a mobile device. By age 4, 75 percent of the children in the study had their own tablet, smartphone, or iPod. And that was in To date, YouTube has hidden behind a terms-of-service defense that its own data must tell it is toothless. Perino agreed, and called on "parents and grandparents who are concerned that young people in their lives aren't getting enough of a feel for what makes this country great" to buy "Paloma.

    Why do we want to become a citizen? What does it mean to become a citizen?