Dec 162012
 

I want you all to know about the exciting new guide, “Facing the Screen Dilemma:  Children, Technology and Early Education.”  It is described below in the message that was sent out to list members of my organization, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment.  As you’ll read below, I co-authored the guide with two colleagues who also care deeply about this issue.  As there is more and more push to use technology in early childhood programs, I hope the guide helps you make intentional decisions about whether or not to use technology and if yes, how.  You can download the guide from the TRUCE website.

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Dear Friends of TRUCE,

Smart boards. Smartphones. Tablets. E-books, apps and more. The rapid influx of new screen devices poses a special challenge for the early childhood community. The good news is that TRUCE has collaborated with our colleagues at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Alliance for Childhood (AFC), to create a new guide offering help and support for childhood educators grappling with how best to support young children’s growth, development and learning in a world radically changed by technology. Facing the Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology, and Early Education is designed to help educators make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children.

“Early childhood educators face increasing pressure to incorporate screens into their classrooms,” said CCFC’s director, Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe. “The sheer volume of screen technologies marketed as educational, and even essential, for young children is overwhelming. It’s crucial to separate the hype from what research tells us young children really need.”

Facing the Screen Dilemma comes at a time of heightened concerns about the time children spend with screen-media. Time spent with screen media is at record highs for children of all ages. And excessive screen time is linked to childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, and poor school performance. Two brand new surveys from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Common Sense Media highlight widespread concern among teachers that children’s constant use of digital technology hampers attention span and the ability to complete difficult tasks.

As early childhood teachers, we were disappointed at the lack of evidence-based guidance provided by the recent NAEYC position statement on technology and young children. Facing the Screen Dilemma fills in the gap by providing a much-needed overview of the research on screen time and young children so that we can make informed decisions. It offers practical considerations and concrete advice for centers using screen technologies, as well as support for centers resisting pressure to abandon screen-free policies.

“Keeping an early childhood environment screen-free is a valid and pedagogically sound choice,” explains the Alliance for Childhood’s Joan Almon “Developing children thrive when they are talked to, read to, played with and given time for creative play, physically active play, and interactions with other children and adults. It’s really OK to say the iPad can wait.”
For all early childhood programs, Facing the Screen Dilemma recommends screen-free settings for children under two. The guide encourages educators to work closely with parents around technology issues and to understand how exposure to screens at home is affecting the performance and behavior of the children in their care.

Here at TRUCE, we urge educators who decide to use screens with young children to be intentional about their choices and determine before hand exactly how a given technology will expand or enhance classroom goals for children. It’s important to choose screen activities carefully, establish rules and routines for their use, and provide clear boundaries so that screen time doesn’t not crowd out vital classroom activities. We truly believe that Facing the Screen Dilemma will help you make careful and intentional choices around digital technology.

Please share Facing the Screen Dilemma with schools, libraries, daycare centers, and more. If you would like a copy mailed to you, please email your request to truce@truceteachers.org with the word “Request” in your subject line. And please, let us know how you are using the guide. Send us your stories or post them on to our website.

Best regards,
Diane Levin, Wheelock College
(on behalf of the TRUCE Steering Committee)