ARLINGTON, Va. — CPB announced a $523,097 grant to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop to research the media habits of children and teens between the ages of 8 and 18.
Through the grant, the Cooney Center will examine how young people use digital media — including visual, audio and social media content and messaging — beyond traditional broadcasting. The findings will inform future content strategies for public media and its partnerships with educators and youth organizations.
“Through this research we will have the opportunity to learn more about young people’s need to stay constantly connected and engaged with media,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in a news release. “Our goal is to enable public media to connect with them through ideas and educational content that can enhance their learning and their lives.”
Harrison announced the grant Monday during the CPB Thought Leader Forum at the National Educational Telecommunications Association annual conference. Forum sessions focused on how public media can best serve younger audiences who are growing up with platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Tik Tok. CPB has previously invested millions into bridging the gap between public media and high-school students through American Graduate.
In announcing the grant, CPB cited groundbreaking research led more than 50 years ago by Joan Ganz Cooney, co-creator of Sesame Street, on how to use television to prepare preschool children in underserved communities to succeed in school.
Michael Preston, ED of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, told Current that researchers aim to present their findings at next year’s NETA conference. They will talk with kids in the Generation Z demographic to get a clearer picture of how public media can serve them.
“We’re interested in kids as they age out of the Sesame Street demographic, so we’re following them into middle childhood and into their tween and teen years,” Preston said. “Media now is more participatory, so what kids do is not just about consumption. They’re making stuff, they’re communicating and they’re connecting with their friends and random people online. We have to acknowledge this messy environment that kids are entering.”