When is digital media good for toddlers?

BlogDec 20 2013

“We now know so much about how critical the first years in life are to brain development. … It is no secret that as parents, grandparents, educators and child care providers, we are exposed to a proliferation of technology and digital devices. … But what do we know about what technology and digital media should be made available to our toddlers and preschoolers? What does the research say? Are we in a new era of child development where technology has a role to play?” – Kristin Anderson Moore

Last week was our annual Kristin Anderson Moore Lecture. The topic was toddlers, preschoolers and digital media, and the “lecture” was actually a panel discussion featuring Kris Moore, our senior scholar, Lisa Guernsey of the New America Foundation, Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek of Temple University, and Dr. Rosemarie Truglio of Sesame Workshop.

If you were too busy for Too Young for Tech, here are some gems from the panel, according to viewers, and quotes from the panelists that inspired these comments:

“There are so many apps out there but there’s not necessarily the knowledge of how to use them or what’s best to use. [Tech for young children] can be bad or good depending on how it’s used.” – Hannah

“If we know that screen media and digital platforms are everywhere … , then the question is, how can we build them in the best possible way so that the activities our children are engaged in are … the best. We ought to build these activities so that they have active, not passive engagement by the children. We ought to build them so that children are engaged, not distracted by what’s going on in the screen media—if you’re going to have a story, don’t break it up with games that take you away from the story. We should make it meaningful, because when we disembody the information, it’s not going to be educational at all …. And it should be interactive and social, because that’s where we learn best.” – Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

“I was expecting it to be more anti-media, but it was more nuanced—not just about time [kids spend on devices] but context.” – Laurel

“Instead of just thinking about the amount of time children might be spending with a device, or with a box that has images on it, we should be looking at the three Cs. … Let’s look at the content: what are they seeing on the screen … or what are they playing with? What about the context: who’s around the child when they’re experiencing this, and how is it fitting into their daily routines? … The third C is your child … you have to really tune into what some children are more prone to do with media, the way they’re using it or experiencing it, becoming upset by it or becoming fixated on it, and other kids are going to be completely different.” – Lisa Guernsey

“We need to change the conversation from being about whether it’s good or bad, and how much time children spend on these devices. Adults can learn to be savvy users of technology and should teach kids to be savvy users too.” – Kelly

“Parents and educators need more coaching and professional development to help them mentor young kids’ technology use.” – Tamara

 “We have to think about these various content experiences, and not blame parents or shame parents. I think that’s what’s happening nowadays in the popular press; we’re making parents feel badly about how they’re using these devices, and we need to empower them to use them as tools in educating their young children.” – Rosemarie Truglio

“[The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s position statement] put a real stress on the professional development that’s needed, helping teachers see what it means to use different kinds of materials in developmentally-appropriate ways—and there’s not a lot of that kind of professional development going on out there when it comes to the different kinds of technology and tools.” – Lisa Guernsey

If you have a comment about the panel, send it to us!

If you missed it, don’t worry – you didn’t miss it! Here it is, in its recorded glory.

If you want more information, be sure to check out our upcoming Child Trends 5, Five Things You Should Know about Tots and Technology.

See you at next year’s Lecture!