Screen Time and Early Literacy


How much time is too much time for young children to be absorbed in a computer screen? Will technology ever take the place of human interaction? These hot-button questions are not going away anytime soon. As opinions become more heated, research will continue to blossom, and hopefully an answer will surface. But until then, how do we address this issue in our storytimes?

Apps are quickly appearing in Storytimes around the country because of the proliferation of smartphones and tablet technology. Some parents rely on technology to help keep their children occupied when boredom sets in. We, as Storytime and Early Literacy professionals, have the opportunity to guide those parents in the right direction. Take a look at some of the lists of excellent educational Apps to share with these parents. Even if they aren’t engaging with their children all of the time, at least they will have an idea of some good Apps to share!


This article from the New York Times discusses screen time and various pros and cons for allowing children to experience it. Although there have not been many studies done at the present time, those that have been done are producing some solid (if unsurprising) results. Essentially, what is being shown is that although children seem more absorbed in screens than in live conversation, they tend to learn very little, if anything, from that interaction. No matter how much children enjoy interacting with the screen, screen time doesn’t yet replace the importance of direct learning from a parent or caregiver.

The debate over the issue of whether or not to permit children screen time is one that will continue for years to come. Technology is here to stay, so we as Early Literacy professionals can at the very least educate the caregivers in our storytimes of the educational Apps that exist. Check out this blog for some positive App sentiments! Additionally, we can always share the importance of interactive reading and encourage caregivers to make reading a regular part of their child’s day. Really, as long as children are being prepared to succeed in school, does it really matter how they get there?

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