Screen Time and the Young Child: Strategies for Balance


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Presentation on screen time and strategies for balancing technology exposure with other learning activities for early learners. For the Early Childhood Education Conference at Purdue University North Central, April 26, 2014

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Screen Time and the Young Child: Strategies for Balance

  1. 1. Screen Time and the Young Child: Strategies for Balance Anastasia M. Trekles, Ph.D. Clinical Professor of Instructional Technology Purdue University North Central
  2. 2. Your Kids and Screen Time • How do you balance “high-tech” and “low- tech” or “no-tech” activities? • Share, share, share!
  3. 3. You Can’t Just Say No Anymore • Media and technology are everywhere • Just saying no can create a wedge between kids and parents as well as other kids • Kids need tools to understand and make decisions
  4. 4. What do we do?
  5. 5. Conflicting Messages • Conflicting research abounds in technology and early childhood • Pay careful attention as you read about this subject – many studies and articles have agendas • NAEYC, AAP hold positions that no child under 2 should be exposed to a screen; children 2-5 should have very limited access • But, at the same time, NAEYC acknowledges that not all screens are the same
  6. 6. Conflicting Messages Opponents • Screen time can: – Cause obesity – Influence children with negative messages and models – Compromises attention and psychological well being – Limits creativity and true play activities Advocates and “Moderates” • INTERACTIVE types of “screen time” can: – Enhance problem solving and creativity – Provide new platforms for play and social interaction – Provide foundation for media literacy necessary for success in a modern world
  7. 7. Who’s right?
  8. 8. Digital Natives • Marc Prensky argues that the digital world is a new extension of the playground – a world full of possibilities for inquisitive minds • Some studies in neuroscience back him up • Growing up with technology changes the way kids think – multitasking “hypertext” minds • Result is more information literacy, quicker adaptation and mental model construction • In other words, they’re not distracted – they’re just bored with traditional ways of doing things
  9. 9. Technology and Intellectual Development • When guided, technology can stimulate thinking for children • Immersive, open-ended games and apps can be great ways to enhance development while kids have screen time • A “good game” is: – Interactive – Social and collaborative – Open-ended with no set outcome – Not too highly structured
  10. 10. Sounds promising?
  11. 11. The Downside • Kids may be losing their reflection and self-evaluation skills in our twitch-speed, achievement-focused world • Our worlds move too fast to provide for this kind of thinking time • Guidance from adults is key to this critical piece in intellectual development
  12. 12. Play for Development • In early childhood, children are preoperational (Piaget) • Academic skills for young children are often seen as in direct conflict with Piaget’s theories • Agency and individualized learning must be part of any child’s play activity • Academic skills put children in a very highly structured environment that goes against their developmental needs
  13. 13. Independent Learning • “Too much” structured time? • When directed by what they see in the media or through academic activities, kids lose out on developing important skills for independent learning • Kids need time to learn, play, explore, and make mistakes on their own • Regardless of the activity or tech used, we can’t get rid of unstructured playtime
  14. 14. What can we do?
  15. 15. NAEYC Guidelines for Early Childhood Educators • Select, use, integrate, and evaluate technology and interactive media in intentional and developmentally appropriate ways • Balance activities, recognizing that technology and interactive media can be valuable tools when used to extend and support active, hands-on, creative, and authentic engagement • Prohibit and discourage the passive use of television, videos, DVDs, and other non-interactive technologies for kids
  16. 16. NAEYC Guidelines, cont’d. • Limit any use of technology and interactive media in programs for children younger than 2 to those that appropriately support and strengthen adult- child relationships. • Carefully consider screen time recommendations from birth through age 5 to determine appropriate limits on technology and media use • Provide leadership in ensuring equitable access to technology and interactive experiences for kids and families
  17. 17. Working with Kids and Technology • Supervise and help kids select appropriate media/toys/play experiences • Balance between technology and the physical world • Guide but do not force any particular beliefs and inclinations on the child • Ask questions and be part of the experience • Moderation is key for ANY activity, tech or no- tech
  18. 18. Some Scenarios • Your little one grabs your iPhone and begins experimenting – How can you turn the situation into a learning experience? • Your child throws a tantrum when you turn off the TV – What now?
  19. 19. Apps for Creative Play • Avoid apps that do not let kids explore openly and only give one way to use them – many “kids’ learning games” are this way • Great apps for kids – Montessori Crosswords – Williamspurrrg HD – iCreate – Voice Record (comes with iOS) – iPhoto (or any picture-taking app) – iMovie (or any movie-capture app)
  20. 20. Resources • ICT in the Early Years: • Website of Diane Levin, author of many useful books on early childhood and screen time concerns: • Article on the role of tech in ECE: dhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=302
  21. 21. Resources • Chapter 3 of The Best Schools (Armstrong, 2006): -Childhood-Education-Programs@-Play.aspx • Co-viewing – Joan Ganz Cooney Center: coviewing-designing-for-learning-through-joint-media- engagement/ • Merits of SmartBoards for ECE: • Research and statistics on Games for Learning:
  22. 22. Resources • Marc Prensky’s research: • Early Childhood Education and Technology – Fred Rogers Center: childhood-educators-use-technology-in-the-classroom/ • NAEYC Technology Guidelines: .pdf • Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: a
  23. 23. Thank you! • Slides available: • Email me: • Twitter: @instruct_tech and @PNCOLT