Plugging in and the Preschool Brain


A colleague of mine shared this interesting article with me, and I felt compelled to pass it on to all of you. It encourages the debate over whether screen time for toddlers is beneficial or detrimental. As Early Literacy professionals, we understand the need for direct interaction between parent or caregiver and child, and also the fact that television does not offer the necessary interaction to help children learn. However, this article begs the question of whether cell phones and tablets, which require interaction for many apps to work, may still not provide enough interaction for children to develop properly.

We have a list of excellent educational apps on the CLEL website, and we believe that these have positive effects on children when used in an interactive manner. For example, sitting with a child while using an app or incorporating an app into Storytime are great ways to integrate technology into traditionally print-based activities. The important concept here, though, is the INTERACTION that is involved with these apps. Instead of using them as means of distraction for children, it is better to use them as an additional way to interact.

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One of the questions posed in this article is whether or not screen time that is used as a pacifier will actually inhibit children’s abilities to learn self regulation. In a world that is saturated by cell phone and tablet use, it seems that, by the time this is adequately studied, it may be too late for an entire generation of children to be able to modify their behavior, if it is necessary. What will that mean for future generations? These are some pretty heavy thoughts for a Monday morning, but they are critical to be asking in our tech-heavy world.

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