I work for children, not technology. I say this because they don’t always belong together and I am obligated, as is anyone who has the public’s trust in serving children, to put children first.
In practice then, I am consistently looking to know and use what is best for children. All of us who use ECRR have the research and materials from ALA to assure us that we are being effective in supporting early literacy development when we employ its strategies and practices. ECRR does not include screen time for children ages 0-5. This is not an oversight. ECRR is based on sound research that does not recommend screen time for children of this age. In fact, no authoritative source recommends screen time for children ages 0-5. This is because there is no research to direct them to do otherwise. My role
then is clear: I do not recommend or encourage screen time for children 0-5. And my standards are high: Only the best for children, please.
Not coincidentally, this course of action is completely consistent with my experience with children. I routinely see the sad, glazed expressions of children at computer screens. Children learning are children playing, moving and interacting. This is what the research shows and it’s what I believe we want for our children. I believe screens detract from or distract from what we know how children learn. I see screens draw children into a fixed stare, passivity and immobility. I have seen children behave in an addicted way toward screens. In my observations, screens do not promote or facilitate human interaction. I mostly see screens being used as things to occupy the very young child away from the
adult. I think we are fooling ourselves if we think the small screens are the beneficial, new frontier of child-adult relationships and learning.
But I have digressed into anecdotes. I don’t need to do that. I simply do not recommend or encourage screen time for children ages 0-5 and that is based on research, not my personal taste and opinions. It really is this simple, isn’t it? Do I have to judge parents? No. Do I have to instruct adults in the use of screens with babies? No. Do I have to know, use and demonstrate apps for toddlers? No. Do I have to remove screens from the environment? No. Do I have to make myself available, for free, to companies who want me to help them do their product development? No.
I have to do what I know is best for children (see ECRR) and I do and it is fun. It is fun for kids and it is fun for adults and it is extra fun in groups of kids and adults.
If an adult asked me how to make the optimal, educational use of screen time (they never have) with their child who is 5 or younger, I would discuss with them how important their personal interaction is and how important talking is for their child. I tell parents that children thrive with their encouragement. I tell them that when they are having fun with their child, their child is learning and thriving. I tell them, “Follow the joy”.
Our guest blogger today is Kathy Kleckner. Kathy is a children’s librarian for Dakota County Libraries at their Rosemount branch. She has worked as a librarian on a bookmobile, in elementary schools and in urban systems. She is a member of the Minnesota Library Association and ALSC. Kathy just recently returned, quite vitalized, from the ALSC Institute in Indianapolis.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.