Once upon a time, there were no digital devices... Now the whole world is saturated with questions and concerns about how we are educating our children in this new day and age. The question of ‘What’s best?’ What should we allow and not allow our children to do with digital devices? No matter what their age, these questions are being asked everywhere, not just at home but in schools.
As teachers, we are always on alert for teachable moments and the opportunity to engage students in what may not be on our lesson plans. If we didn't take advantage of these chance encounters we would be remiss in our jobs. Parents should also be doing the same. We all know the research about child development and developmentally appropriate practices varies wildly. Especially when dealing with anything digital. We don’t know the ramifications of adult Smart Phone usage, let alone children and iPads. We do not have enough research about technology and young children to make definitive statements about technology use for any age or given the amount of time. We do, however, have a solid body of evidence about early childhood development that could help give some insight. The following pointers come from AEYC, the local affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
- Young children try to make sense of their world through play: preschoolers are watching us play with our smartphones at every turn. Children reflect and play what they see.
- Young children are curious, active learners - it would be amazing to be able to watch and observe a young child as they experimented with the cause and effect as they 'fiddled' with the smartphone. These are the foundation pieces for inquiry and science.
- The foundation of young children's social-emotional skill development is dependent on healthy relationships and grown-ups who provide reassurances to explore their environment; to describe and name what children are experiencing and feeling- to build vocabulary and a sea of knowledge about how the world works and how they feel about it.
Whether it be playing with your cell phone, watching TV, reading a book, sharing a special occasion or any other day to day activity, one thing is certain, as children learn and grow into adults, parents are their first teachers. You should monitor what your child uses and you should actively be involved with their screen time. That much we do know, and if we follow those two simple concepts, I believe we can live techno guilt-free!
Update from the Wall Street Journal
What If Children Should Be Spending More Time With Screens? 1/23/18
New guidance on children and technology makes the distinction between passive exposure and active play and learning with screens
This post appeared in the printed version of the Wall Street Journal and since I cannot link to the full online article I have cut and pasted what I consider to be the most profound ideas presented by Christopher Mims.
But educators and researchers are beginning to acknowledge the ways technology can be a tool for learning and development, rather than merely a danger..... It’s a natural consequence of the growing capabilities of the devices at our disposal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics once recommended parents simply limit children’s time on screens. The association changed those recommendations in 2016 to reflect profound differences in levels of interactivity between TV, on which most previous research was based, and the devices children use today.
Where previous guidelines described all screen time for young children in terms of “exposure,” as if screen time were a toxic substance, new guidance allows for up to an hour a day for children under 5 and distinguishes between different kinds of screen use—say, FaceTime with Grandma versus a show on YouTube.
Instead of enforcing time-based rules, parents should help children determine what they want to do—consume and create art, marvel at the universe—and make it a daily part of screen life, says Anya Kamenetz, a journalist and author of the coming book “The Art of Screen Time—How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life.”
In doing so, parents can offer “extraordinary learning” experiences that weren’t possible before such technology came along, says Mimi Ito, director of the Connected Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine and a cultural anthropologist who has studied how children actually use technology for over two decades.