Parents Start Preparing Their Children Very Young and Emphasize Value of New Media

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PBS and PTA Look at the Pressures on Parents Raising the Next Generation of Kids

Significant Differences About Parenting Concerns Between Income Levels

Parents Confident in Amount of Time Spent with Their Children and Not Concerned About Media or Extracurricular Activities as a Source of Family Stress

New York, NY August 10, 2006 - Today PBS joined PTA for a "National Back-to-School" media briefing at The New York Public Library to present topline results from a breaking Roper Public Opinion Poll looking at the pressures parents face in raising the next generation of kids. According to the survey, 91% of parents feel that parents are preparing children for success in school at very young ages and nearly 70% of parents agreed that if their child does not know how to use media technologies they will fall behind in school. Additionally, low income families face unique challenges to help prepare their children for success in life, according to a Roper Public Affairs & Media survey of 1,001 parents with children ages 2-11.

"PBS wanted to investigate the big issues for parents behind some of the national headlines to identify the diverse needs of today's parents and develop solutions," said Lesli Rotenberg, SVP PBS KIDS Next Generation Media. "As the leader in trusted content for young children, PBS is committed to meeting the unique demands that parents are facing in raising the next generation of children."

"PTA understands the modern family and as much as family structures and demographics change, our goals to support and protect children remain the same," said Anna Weselak, PTA national president.

In particular, parents of kids 2-5 years-old agreed that parents are starting to prepare their children for success in school at early ages. When asked specifically about their own 2-5 year-old child, over half said they worry about their child's academic performance and almost 40% felt their child is in competition with other kids.

With increasing media usage and platforms for kids, 68% of parents of kids 2-11 agreed that if their child does not know how to use media technologies they will fall behind in school. Four out of five parents agreed that their child's media usage will help them succeed in school. Nearly 93% agreed that media allows a child to learn new and fascinating things, and over half agreed that their child's media use is just as beneficial as an extracurricular activity. While 95% of parents feel responsible for continuing their child's learning at home, 57% feel it is the school's responsibility to prepare children to use new technologies.

Lower income households (earning less than $30,000 annually) do not feel as prepared to help their child succeed in school as compared to middle ($30-$75k) and high income households (earning $75,000 or more annually) -- citing issues around lack of parents' skills with new technologies, language or cultural heritage obstacles in communicating with their child's school and difficulty finding advice specific to their child's stage of development. These families were more concerned about their children's lack of role models, who promote social values, a sense of security and safety, and ways to cope with the pressures of academic success and activities, as compared to higher income families. They are also more concerned that their children will not finish high school.

"This research demonstrates that new millennium parents from very diverse backgrounds mostly share one overriding worry: for the success of their children in life," said psychologist, author and child development expert Dr. Michael Bradley, who is also presenting at PTA's Back-to-School media briefing. " These same parents intuitively know that by increasing unstructured play time where kids develop critical decision-making skills, and by finding more family time where the life-sustaining relationships between parents and children are built, that they are creating a foundation for success not only in school, but in life. It is those relationships which turn out to be the most powerful component of successful kids."

This research will help PBS directly address parents' concerns with new and expanding media services. Beginning September 4, 2006, PBS KIDS will launch a new preschool learning destination on TV and on the Internet that helps prepare children for success in school and life and introduces new media technologies to children and parents. The destination features an adult role model and innovative media resources to help parents extend learning through at-home activities.

PBS Parents, a resource that is accessible via the Internet and used by PBS stations across the country to assist teachers, parents and caregivers (www.pbsparents.org), offers a child development tracker allowing parents to monitor and help their child's progress in literacy, language, math and science, as well as social, emotional and physical development. PBS Parents recently launched Spanish language content on language and literacy, media literacy, math and communicating with children in addition to resources on using media as a spring board for family activities and engagement to extend learning and experiences. In addition, PBS will analyze the full data to develop additional resources over the next few years, leveraging additional media platforms and working in partnership with national experts and partners, local PBS stations, and PBS educator services (PBS TeacherSource, www.pbs.org/teachersource, and PBS Teacherline, www.pbs.org/teacherline).

The poll also found that four out of five of all parents surveyed recognize a national trend in over scheduling their children, but the majority of parents in this survey felt confident about their own individual parenting choices. Two out of three parents are satisfied with the time spent with their children, and do not feel that extracurricular activities take away from children's free time or family time. In addition, about six in 10 agreed that extracurricular activities are not a source of stress for them (58%) or their child (66%). For the 34% of parents not satisfied with the amount of time spent with family, they were much more likely to feel parents' work and household chores were to blame (95% and 59%, respectively), rather than children's extracurricular activities (37%) and homework (36%).

Roper Public Affairs & Media, a division of GfK NOP, surveyed 1,001 parents with children ages 2-11 by telephone in July 2006. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4.2 percentage points. The study was a re-contact study of parents who had previously been participants in GfK's Omnitel studies, which are weekly national studies of 1000 respondents using random digit dialed national probability samples. In addition to PBS and PTA, this Roper poll was created in consultation with Elizabeth Vandewater, PhD, Associate Director of the Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin and National Head Start Association.

With a 360-degree approach to learning and reaching children, PBS KIDS leverages the full spectrum of media and technology advancements, as well as community to build knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity. PBS KIDS encourages children to interact as respectful citizens in a diverse society. By involving parents, teachers and caregivers as learning partners, PBS KIDS helps to empower children for success in school and life.

PBS KIDS is committed to providing the highest-quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age-appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS' programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network and earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (www.pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! (www.pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (www.pbsparents.org), PBS TeacherSource (www.pbsteachersource.org), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS KIDS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 354 public television stations, serving nearly 90 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.

PTA comprises nearly 6 million parents and other concerned adults devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that prides itself on being a powerful voice for children, a relevant resource for parents, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who is concerned with the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

Headquartered in New York, Roper Public Affairs & Media specializes in public opinion polling, communications research, and corporate reputation measurement in the US and globally. Roper also offers two important syndicated services, Roper Reports and Roper Reports Worldwide, which track consumer values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in the US and 30 other countries. Roper is part of The GfK Group. With home offices in Nuremberg, Germany, The GfK Group is among the top-five market research organizations in the world. Its activities cover five business divisions: Custom Research, Retail and Technology, Consumer Tracking, Media and Healthcare. The GfK Group has more than 130 subsidiaries and affiliates in 61 countries.

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Jill Corderman, PBS KIDS, 703.739.5788 / jcorderman@pbs.org
Jenni Gaster Sopko, PTA national, 312.670.6782 / jsopko@pta.org