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The subject of children’s relationship with screens tends to incur suspicion and the proffering of educational advice in equal measure, in both cases stressing the concomitant risks of addiction, illness and deviant behaviour. The old moral panic about television has now been upgraded to include fears about digital technology.This study is a four-year continuation of the analysis of the birth cohort of the French longitudinal ELFE study into young children’s screen time habits (from birth to the age of two). The ELFE panel has been following 18,000 children born in 2011, creating a national picture of household screen usage and the frequency of children’s exposure to various screens.By the age of five and a half, screens feature in all children’s daily lives and single-screen consumption (i.e. television) has become a falling trend in the face of a multi-screen world, in which television nevertheless remains central. However, during the first six years of their lives, children’s relationships with television and digital screens such as computers, tablets and smartphones are now quite different, indicating a divergent appropriation of educational norms depending on such factors as class, family structures, educational practices and the way their own parents relate to screens.

Kevin Diter
Sylvie Octobre
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