The Unofficial Apple Weblog reacts to a report just published by Common Sense Media.  The study examined tablet and video game usage is the under-eight set.

In part: 

Common Sense Media suggests 20% of parent use a mobile device to keep their child entertained so they can get some errands done. 

Where this post breaks down – and where most blog posts that are commentary on a news item break down – is in failing to clearly demarcate where the facts/data leave off and opinion picks up.

Common Sense Media is sort of like the Pew Internet Life project … the data they gather are presented in an essentially value-neutral format (we asked x people y question. Z responded.) I have come to trust their data and recommendations because the information is presented in a level-headed, straightforward manner.

I think the post’s author wanders off the data path and into opinion as she opens he 2nd graf. “These mobile devices have a darker side though.” Without a “We believe” or “I think”, the reader might reasonably be led to believe that the two grafs that follow are part of the Common Sense Media release. In fact, no such positions are put forth in the study itself

Further, if the “darker side” portion was attributable to someone at Common Sense Media as a reaction/response to the study, that should have been made clear. 

If this post is picked up and used without some form of clarification, we are just a few news cycles away from this being reported as “Common Sense Media decries the dark side of technology.” (And don’t even imagine what the punditocracy will do with it then 🙂 )

I don’t in any way begrudge the author her right/job of putting forth an opinion on the research. In fact, I agree with her assertion that “the line of appropriate usage will become even more difficult for parents to define.” But analysis/opinion pieces, and their readers, are served best when the lines between data-driven fact and opinion are clearly visible to the reader.

Hyper-focused attribution has always been a thin bright line for journalists. It should become more of one for bloggers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>