Technology and story times are a pairing that Children’s Librarians are always striving to balance. Tablets allow us to bring in more variety to our story times, as well as to more easily communicate with increasingly diverse story time groups. However, we also have to keep in mind that as Children’s Librarians that we are the primary resource for many families for how they should be interacting with technology around their children.
I have been re-reading Becoming a Media Mentor by Claudia Haines, Cen Campbell, and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) as our Children’s Services Department seeks to create a more formalized process by which to train staff as media mentors. While the focus of the book is on giving staff what they need to help families determine which technology tools serve their needs best, it has spurred the thought of how we mentor families by the very way in which we interact with technology while working with their children.
This sort of technology behavior mentoring means that once the tablet or smart phone has served its purpose in the story time routine then it is time to put it away somewhere where it cannot be accessed during play time. We can do this matter of factly or we can make it a brief talking point about putting away technology so that we can play (or read or sing, whatever comes next in the program). Having tested this sort of media behavior mentoring at my own story times I have seen fewer parents on their phone, and fewer phones even making out of pockets and totes.
A huge part of our role as media mentors is to model media interaction behaviors as well as educating families on the right technologies for their needs, and many of these interactions will happen before, during, and after our story times.
For the highlights of Becoming a Media Mentor, take a look at this article.