Responding To Resistance: Why We Should Mandate Media Literacy in Early Childhood Education

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics grudgingly recognized the diversity of activities available using electronic screens and they have acknowledged that minimal screen time for toddlers and preschoolers might not ruin children for life and, in some cases, might even have some benefit. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me wants to say, “I told you so”; I’ve been arguing for at least twenty years that, unless you are talking about very heavy users, what children do with screens is more important than counting the minutes they spend with the devices. If the content or activity is harmful, then the amount of acceptable screen time should be zero. But what if they are doing media literacy?

The thing is, you can’t teach media literacy skills without allowing children to engage with media, including some electronic screens. If it were up to me, I’d mandate purposeful use of digital media as a requirement for credentialing, but I understand why many early childhood professionals resist.

Whether they are

  • getting push back from well-meaning (but ill-informed) parents,
  • limited by administrators who shun screens as if doing so earned their programs some sort of merit badge,
  • subject to evaluations using antiquated quality rating scales that designate screens as a waste of time, or
  • simply lack confidence in their own tech skills,

too many early childhood professionals reject media literacy because it involves use of screen media.

We should always look at screen time relative to other activities, using media mindfully and with intention and ensuring that it is part of a balanced day of rich and varied activities. That said, here are my top 15 responses to those who continue to resist integrating media literacy into early childhood education:

  1. We live in a digital world. A quick look at a favorite website, online news source, or social network reveals that the digital world routinely merges print, image, and audio.  The only way that children will thrive in this world – and harness the power that has traditionally accrued to those who are literate – is to learn how to “read” and “write” with pictures and sound, as well as with text.
  1. Young children are already using media technologies, and they will continue to use them with or without us. Better that they use them with us. Otherwise their technology habits are likely to come from marketers, peers, or others who don’t care about children as much as we do, and who may not share our values or expertise.       By the way, early childhood professionals are also already using media technologies, both in their personal lives and with children.  Media literacy provides the guidance they need to use that technology well and avoid modeling bad habits that children have to unlearn later.
  1. It’s our job to prepare children for the world we live in, not for the world that existed when our education system was designed. When the U.S. school system was developed, books, magazines, and newspapers – all forms of mass media – were the primary method of disseminating uniform information to a lot of people. So every year that a child is in school, they are required to spend a considerable amount of time learning read and analyze print media. It’s time to update our efforts by recognizing that access to digital media technologies changes our relationship to information. Media literacy education gives educators a way to help children develop the judgment and ethics they need to navigate their online lives.
  1. A commitment to equal opportunity demands that we address the “digital divide.” Digital media technologies are central to the worlds of learning, work, and citizenship; that, alone obligates us to use classrooms, libraries, and child care sites to provide tech opportunities for children with limited home access. But the digital divide isn’t just about access; it’s also about whether or not children use devices productively. Media literacy education methods help early childhood educators model effective technology use, give children carefully scaffolded opportunities to practice, and encourage youngsters to share what they know with one another.
  1. The digital world does more than combine modes of communication; it also merges the means of communication. As today’s preschoolers grow into adolescence, they won’t be choosing between computers, televisions, radios, music players, game consoles, e-readers, or phones; everything will routinely be accessed through a single device.   That means the things we want children to do will be hard to separate from things to which we would prefer they not have access. And in a world where traditional adult “gatekeeping” of media content is less and less possible, it is essential to teach children how to analyze and evaluate content for themselves.
  1. Communication with image and sound is a natural for preschoolers who don’t yet have text-based language skills. Digital cameras (including those in phones and tablets) allow young children to escape the limits of their existing fine motor skills and nascent vocabulary by enabling them to communicate ideas, create art, interact socially, and recall events, in rich and complex ways.
  1. Media literacy education approaches technologies as tools, not learning outcomes. The goal of media literacy education isn’t technology use; it’s to prepare children to thrive in a media and technology-rich world. That approach keeps the emphasis where it should be: on sound pedagogy and learning. So media literacy lesson planning starts with the question, “What do we want children to learn?” Only then do we look at how digital devices and media literacy methods can help accomplish the goals.
  1. Education is never a game of “keep away. It may be easier to ‘just say no’ to screens than to help children (and their teachers) learn how to use media tech in healthy and productive ways, but just as we can’t teach children to read by keeping them away from books, we can’t teach them to be media literate by keeping them away from media, including screen media.

keep-away

This is especially true because young children don’t typically apply learning from one domain to another. So even if we talk with preschoolers about books and consciously teach critical inquiry skills in the process, they won’t necessarily use those skills in relation to electronic media. If we want children to apply reasoning and reflection to all the media they use and create, we have to model that habit and provide opportunities to practice. That doesn’t mean allowing hours of daily screen time – media literacy is not an “anything goes” approach to technology. But it does require that we use screen media with children on a regular basis.

  1. Children don’t gain critical inquiry skills by osmosis just because they use technology. That’s why media literacy education infuses technology use with thinking and reasoning in developmentally appropriate ways. Those who are most concerned about negative media effects should be the first to adopt media literacy because the essence of the method is analysis, reflection, awareness, and action.
  1. We should believe the research, not the headlines. Research has unquestionably shown that screen time can have negative effects, but in the vast majority of cases the concern-worthy findings apply only to “heavy” users/viewers. Most parents and educators don’t actually read the research, so they miss that nuance. Instead, dramatic news headlines (intended to sell, more than inform) mislead us into questioning any screen use. However, going back to at least the 1980s (e.g., the California Assessment Program studies) research indicates that moderate use of high quality educational media results in better academic performance than no exposure at all, especially for children from under-resourced communities. We need to stop guilt-tripping people who use screen media in thoughtful, intentional, and balanced ways.
  1. Media literacy helps children develop healthy habits in personalized ways.  Because media literacy educators acknowledge that everyone interprets media through the lens of their own personal experiences, they don’t dictate one “right” approach for every situation. Rather, they provide guidance that colleagues and families can use to find their own pathways to healthy and balanced routines that integrate digital media technologies as part of a rich array of daily activities.
  1. Children are excited by digital media. Reports from classrooms across the country indicate increased engagement and participation by reluctant learners when media technologies are integrated into learning environments. Students who feel marginalized often find their voice when teachers use media literacy education methods.
  1. Media literacy education offers a way to meet children where they are. It provides a way to question media influence and choices while also respecting the media aspects of family and youth culture in the same way that we would respect children’s ethnic identity or religion.
  1. Media literacy is included in current professional standards. See, for example, Standard 15.4 on Computer and Information Technology in the PA Pre-K Learning Standards for Early Childhood or the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center Joint Position Statement: Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 .
  1. If not in early childhood, then when? We rightfully expect high quality childhood education to lay the foundation for traditional literacy; it is also the logical time to lay the foundation for digital and media literacy.  Because behavior patterns aren’t yet firmly entrenched, early childhood is an ideal time to develop good habits. By modeling intentional and balanced use of media technologies, media literacy can help children develop healthy and productive media use habits that will last a lifetime.
May be reprinted for educational, non-profit use with the credit:  From the edublog “TUNE IN Next Time” by Faith Rogow, Ph.D., InsightersEducation.com 2016

148 thoughts on “Responding To Resistance: Why We Should Mandate Media Literacy in Early Childhood Education

  1. The first three reason above is a the base of why we should not mandate media literacy in early childhood is because; “We live in a digital world”, “Young children are already using media technologies, and they will continue to use them with or without us”, “It’s our job to prepare children for the world we live in, not for the world that existed when our education system was designed.” We have to keep up with the times and prepare our children for the future.

  2. Very interesting article and a very good argument for the use of technology. Times have changed and students are surrounded by different media all day. It is important for teachers and parents to guide students in the proper use of this media.

  3. I agree with this article. We can’t deny technology, it is all around us. I feel that media literacy is fine in the classroom as long as it is used mindfully and with the intent to learn a particular subject as the article stated. Children learn in different ways and media technology can help some children use more senses and stay engaged. I also agree that media technology should not be used as a replacement to books and hands on activities, there should be a balance like everything in life.

  4. I think that use of technology with kids is great! We as ecucators and parents use it daily. Biggest facto is that for kids it is interactive and can via text alert parents what they are doing so they can have a discussion.

  5. I totally agree!!Only if technology is used in an educational purposes it is not only beneficial for the child learning but it is very important!

  6. I totally agree with every aspect !
    As long as we use the technology for acquiring media literacy it is completely safe and also beneficial for helping children learn what WE want them to learn!

  7. Great article citing reasons why we as educators need to realize that our students are living in a far different world than we did as students and that our obligation to our students is to ensure that they become productive digital media consumers. To do this, students need to learn how to ask the right questions, how to find the answers to those questions, and how to analyze what they see, hear, and read so they can communicate their ideas about what they have learned. Allowing younger students to develop these skills with guidance will ensure that they have time to master them as they get older.

  8. I am the parent of an 11-year-old with hyperactivity and some language difficulties. With the experience of at-home learning due to the pandemic, over the course of three months, she read less and less, used e-texts with the option of having the book read to her instead of reading it herself, and ultimately couldn’t even be bothered to read simple one or two-line directions. The constant barrage of media made it easier to miss the point of most of her assignments. I think it can be used to excite kids in the classroom but cannot be a replacement for other sources of information. I also have serious concerns that her inability to type has limited her ability to express herself in a digital world.

  9. I believe that using online media is important, however, there is no replacement for reading trade books to children. Students have a thirst for a story being read to them. I have taught many grade levels and each one of them love when I have them sit at the carpet and read to them.

  10. With so many districts beginning to focus on one to one technology support, it is important for children to be taught the appropriate use of media literacy. On line learning is a key to instruction in this current climate. We want students to continue to be excited about learning and explore different avenues using media. The article was spot on.

    • I agree with you. This article was spot on. Our school district has become a one to one with chromebooks from K-12. I believe we need to embrace technology. We as teachers need to incorporate technology with a purpose and not just a time filling activity.

  11. We must face the fact that media literacy is important for students to communicate in today’s world. Teaching how to use it wisely with health in mind is key.

      • Actually we’re in a media world,that media literacy is important for students to communicate in today’s world. The children will expose to the media at home, so is important to continue learning about media in the school.

    • When the teacher is focused on the objective being taught, media often becomes a very effective way for the child to comprehend the lesson, and demonstrate mastery. It’s fascinating to observe the learning process occurring with the assistance of an electronic device, when used with a specific purpose in mind.

  12. Children are like sponges. They can absorb knowledge and create with such ease, when allowed to flow freely.

  13. The article was well written. I agree with what the author said concerning the importance of allowing young children to explore learning through technology.

  14. I agree that children should be taught to use technology with appropriate structure, content and time

  15. I agree with most of the points listed. As a kindergarten teacher I see that the majority of my students are already skilled in these areas. By banning screen time all together we are loosing precious teachable moments. Thought I also believe there is a time and place for such devises in an early childhood classroom and teachers must be very vigilant in monitoring those times and choosing appropriate and meaningful activities.

  16. I’m not sure that I agree with media use in the classroom, especially in the early years of education. The rules concerning technology, and the access to it, are sure to differ from one household to the next and I do not feel it is the school’s place to determine that access is necessary for a student’s education. Some families simply do not believe in allowing their children media access and that shouldn’t be violated in the school setting just because we live in a very technical society.

  17. There should be a balance between technology and teaching the students through various ways,
    i.e auditory, visual and tactile.

  18. Thanks for the insights. I look forward to learning more how this will benefit kids who are marginalized.

  19. I completely agree with the importance of teaching media literacy skills in early childhood classrooms. Withholding the opportunity from children will only hold them back. This day and age has become extremely technology oriented and the world will only become more advanced in it. Children need to learn these skills to keep up with the world.

  20. I agree with this article that all children should have access to digital media. We as educators need to teach our children how to use technology in an education and productive ways to help them grow as learners. If we give them the skills they need they can be more successful.

  21. It is a great article, especially that we are leaving in a world of devises. We communicate now with this pandemic thru video chats, and children are getting prepare for this new way of learning.

  22. Media as well as technology is a very valuable and important tool that we have to help our children develop essential skills for the future.

  23. We definitely live in a digital world. Sadly, students’ knowledge of media and digital devices, often exceeds that of their parents and teachers. As early childhood educators, I believe it is important to use all the tools we have at our disposal to help children learn and interact with the world around them.

    • As a teacher who was thrown into teaching remotely with little or no preparation, I found it to be very true that the students (even my Kindergartners) knew more than I did about using Zoom. When I was having difficulty sharing a document for them to see so we could read together, one student quickly piped up “You just click on the little red “share” button then click on your thing you want to share.” All because he had watched his older brother share his work with his teacher.

  24. It is important that children are introduced to learning through media at a young age. It helps them to adapt to the world we live in. If the information is developmentally appropriate, children can become accustomed to learning through media.

    • In our day and time, it is vital that we learn to use all methods to teach with. Though media and devices are popular it may not be the best approach for all children. When using devices to teach with I do agree that children can get more benefit from it if the intent is modeled and the intent is established.

  25. I think children benefit by using technology as learning tools. I also think that it should be monitored by parents/caregivers.

  26. It is important as educators to incorporated media in the classroom as a tool for learning. We can introduce students to using media as a form of communication with an appropriate level of access.

  27. Now more than ever, I do feel like literacy media in very important in the classroom. Students need to be exposed in the classroom so when situations arise like, distance learning, they will be about to properly navigate through online sites. I also feel that by using literacy media platforms in the classroom students are more engaged especially lower elementary students. They feel as if they are doing something fun and big and because of this you can keep their attention better.

  28. Media technology is essential in schools if properly monitored and subject is directly correlataed to academics. Research driven information is beneficial if guided and monitored closely to avoid wasted time.

  29. I love the concept of media literacy. That it is important that we teach children how to appropriately and effectively use technology and media is essential in this ever changing world.

  30. This is a very good informative article. I do agree with importance of using devices. Children can benefit from using it, only if it is use appropriately in the classroom settings.

  31. The points made in this article are excellent! I love that they include not just the importance of technology in early childhood but the intentionally use of technology. The change of mindset from teaching students to use technology to teaching students how to thrive in a technology rich world was the powerful for me.

  32. Very informative article for parents as well as educators. We all should consider media literacy education in all classrooms. It gives educators a way to help children develop the judgment and ethics they need to navigate their online lives. Media literacy education infuses technology use with thinking and reasoning in developmentally appropriate ways. Children get really excited by digital media and improve their participation. and engagement.

  33. This is a great informative article. I do agree with the importance of devices being used appropriately and effectively in Preschool and any school environment.

  34. While I do agree that media is a useful tool in a child’s learning development I question whether the use of the media is a distraction from the language art tools such as reading classic literature or writings of old which is also imperative for children’s learning and academic growth.

    • While that is a valid concern I believe it’s about balance. It’s important to have experience and understanding of both.

  35. As a preschool para and assisting the teacher the kids needs to be monitored with the ipads. it’s very important for some kids to used and ipad.

  36. I feel media has it’s place (albeit maybe unfortunately) in all walks of life, including in early childhood. It is best to educate children then in making the right choices.

  37. Young children using digital media for educational purposes can benefit the child on many levels. However, it seems the digital word for kids is to occupy their time and serve as babysitters which differs from learning. Too much media exposure is not good in MPO.

  38. I think the current pandemic only highlights the importance of having a variety of ways to access media. Well said.

    • Absolutely! I am blessed to live in a school district that was ahead of the curve of being prepared. I fear this pandemic will further divide the readiness of many students to advance to the next school year level!

    • I agree that the current climate lends itself to needing more access to media. As an administrator for an early childhood school serving children 3 months through kindergarten, I think it is important to provide the information and links to families especially providing links to appropriate websites and articles.

  39. I agree that the purposeful use of integrated media is necessary in today’s world. Our children are bombarded with media in every avenue of life. It’s inescapable. When it is balanced and well laid out it can lead to the development of a productive and healthy association of media usage. It’s is easy to reach someone when it’s something they enjoy learning and using. What better way to encourage young minds then to teach them proper usage of media at an early age.

    • I believe what you said about helping young minds with the proper usuage of media at a young age. Also like the article said, “what do you want them to learn” is the question each educator or parent needs to ask before exposing your student/child to the media.

    • I feel that media is improving with the way we can use as educational strategies as teachers to help assist the children in which we can use as we teach.

  40. Thank you very much for this Article.
    Its clear that is good for child learn about Technology in their early life.

  41. This is a good Article, I think that if we teach the kids in their early life about Technology how, when and where use it, its going to be a good foundation for them.

  42. This article makes a lot of sense, especially when you think about it in the perspective of laying the foundation for media literacy should be an early education goal just like laying the foundation for reading and writing literacy is already what good early education programs do.

  43. I agree with Dr. Rogow’s views on the importance to used technology media literacy in the classroom. because some children are already introduce or expose at home with some type of computer technology with games at early age. and we know that works very well, when is something educational, sadly in my classroom we don’t have any type of technology.

  44. I have use videos to teach letters, procedures, science, social studies… with great success in my Pre-K classes. I watched how the class responded to my lecture or read aloud, compared to watching a video over the same subject. I get 100% attention when it’s on the screen compared to my presentation. To teach you need to have the child’s interest and videos do that for my class. In groups is where they do the hands on of what they just watched on screen. I spend hours of picking just the right video to cover what I want them to know. My kids are always ready for Kindergarten. We take three test per year on the computer. The children who have no experience need much more attention to teaching the new skill to succeed like the more experienced students. We are teaching in their world, not ours!

  45. Digital learning media is now more important than ever. Our young learners, due to Covid-19, have been thrust into their education being online. It’s so important for them to learn correctly, and safely. We need to prepare children to thrive in a media and technology-rich world. Modeling the correct use, allowing the children to apply reasoning and reflection to all the media they use and create, and providing opportunities to practice will definitely prepare them for this digital world they live in.

  46. I agree with the article. We do live in an age where media is on trend. I believe it is important to allowing media and tech to teach due to the fact that in teaching children to use it in healthy ways with limitations and boundaries will benefit in the long run.

  47. I agree with this article that if we do not teach what is appropriate and how to tell if it is appropriate, then when will they learn this. It is setting the foundation on which to grow on in upcoming years of Kindergarten and First grade. Students must be taught in order for them to know what is appropriate and what is not.

  48. The content is much more important than the amount of time. I honestly didn’t realize that the articles which are often published only studies HEAVY screen-time users. It makes sense that the content is much more important than the amount of time spent. Life is all about balance, and media literacy is no difference – there should be a balance of quality and time.

  49. It is evident that this day and time children are exposed to more and more technology.If we would focus more on the content and not so much on time, it would be more beneficial. I work in a classroom with special needs children and it is a wonderful resource for them for learning and communication.

    • I agree! Technology provides many resources to children with special needs and gives them access to information they would otherwise not have. I work with children with deafness and blindness, and many of them lack background knowledge because of their sensory impairment. Technology can help bridge the gaps and build the background they lack due to not having access to incidental learning.

  50. Yes today’s children are living in the digital would and is exposed to media at a very early age. You see kids all the time on some type of device whether it be in the car or some public place.They are even able to face time. The key here is limited screen time, intentional learning and adult interaction is what is best for the kids.

    • I do agree. I feel that too much emphasis is placed on young children using devices, however they are more and more readily available to them. i think we should focus more on the quality of what they are taking in.

  51. Good information to reflect on. At one time we were not allowed to use any digital media in the classroom. Now I see it being used more and more. We are now living in digital world and children are already using this technology. I agree that we need to help children develop good habits for digital and media literacy.

  52. I have been a support person or 1:1 in aan integrated preschool classroom with a wonderful teacher who has always used media with her 3-5 year olds. Watching a short video on the smart board is as important as being able to attend during morning circle. She always repeats the same video short each day of the week that the child attends and by the second class they are answering questions and supplying facts they learned.

    • This is so true. We incorporate it in our classroom as well as use it with Letterland, which helps the children remember is more effectively. However, we are under the guidelines by the state that we can only use to for a certain amount of time a day and have to record the amount of time and what it was used for.

  53. As a preschool teacher I am sometimes shocked at how well my students understand technology. Be it a cell phone or you tube video children see and therefore know more about technology then ever before. The arguments presented by Dr.Rogow are very on point with today’s challenges with technology. We must help guide children to use media with a purpose and with safety.

  54. I love to supplement a lesson with a song or short video. I think the children learn more with visuals and being able to sing about a subject makes that connection stronger. 🙂

    • In my science class I have always included songs into my lessons. And you are right songs are a great teaching tool. Recently my school has added smart tvs to our classrooms. Now I am able to a use song, imagery, and video to teach about the Water Cycle. I love having this resource and being able to share it my students.

  55. I completely agree with Dr. F. Rogow, as early childhood educators we are in a position to teach children good habits when it come to technology. We can not longer say that media is not part of our everyday lives. Today’s Covid-19, situation has thrown us into the realization of how important media literacy is for students of all ages.

  56. As an older educator, it has been hard for me to embrace technology in my classroom of two and three year olds. I have used my computer to answer children’s questions such as “What do hippos eat?” the children loved watching the videos we found. I do not have a tablet or computer for the children to use in my classroom.
    Since school has closed due to COVID 19, I have transformed my entire instruction to online platforms. We have circle time together in the morning and I post videos of story times etc.I deliver learning kits every Monday with hands on activities.

    • I share your sentiments. I too have been teaching for at least two decades and have seen many methods and strategies come and go. I was resistant, no terrified, to jump into the digital arena; however, I found that my kindergartners were already a step ahead of me. I have also moved our entire instructional platform online and am finding myself reaching out to learn more to engage my little explorers.

    • Laurie, because of our current state of distance/online learning it seems teachers have such support with free opportunities for app use and PD that perhaps we all will be able to see media literacy in a new light. The amount of engagement, the scaffolding opportunities, the creativity, the ability to meet students where they are, and the need for shorter lesson time and increased activity time. We are all trying to find the balance for SEL and screen time while maintaining keeping bodies moving and cores engaged. It’s such all so intermingled now for our sanity and need for normalcy.

  57. I truly believe that allowing this age group to be introduced to Media on a very slow level . Great Article Tracy

    • I totally agree with you that it should be introduced on a very slow level. We need to take the time to go over everything they see on a web site, the correct way to find them,
      and most importantly we need to teach them safety rules.!!!!!!!

  58. with world using technologies it seems to bee important to shows children how to use them the correct way and what they can accomplish in doing so.

    • I agree with you Jessica whole-heartly that media is essential in the classroom. I have been a para for fifteen years and have worked in every grade level K-6 with special education students, and I find it so exciting that when you show a video to a student they come alive. They are able to engage with others, they feel good about themselves, and they matter!!!!!!

  59. The use of technology is growing in our society and in our schools.Preparation is key to have positive outcomes. Professional development is in high need to keep everyone up to date with technology so we can be efficient when teaching the children.

  60. I agree that there is a great need to expose children to media in the classroom. We have a hatch computer in our classroom and children learn fine motor skills and are very independent with the lessons presented to them as and extension of what we are learning in the classroom . For example , we are growing plants. It was awesome for friends to see a farmer growing a garden. They learn how to take turns and they teacher one another. We also have a smart board in our classroom. We use is for many different reasons but it a great tool for extending activities. Finding information that we didn’t know to extend our lesson.

    • Ulrica, Hatch is a great tool because you can listen to the comments/the interaction the children have with the computer and each other as data for scaffolding, reinforcing a standard, helping with pre-exisitng knowledge when moving to a new topic, etc. It’s amazing what children will share when engaged in play, when they feel safe, and what new learning can come from the interactions.

  61. I agree with the article , with the idea of children using technology and having limited time , according to their age.

  62. I found the article most agreeable. I even relayed to the part the some might be afraid to intrduce media based learning, because of heir own down fall in technology.

  63. I am a PreK teacher, and i use the smart board everyday for counting and letters and different educational songs. I could not teach without it.

  64. This is my 38th year teaching in early childhood in the public school setting, mostly in kindergarten. I agree with every word because it implies that things like finger plays, shared readings, math manipulatives, and songs are just as important. Well said.

  65. Appropriate usage is the real key to using technology. When tools are used in the way they can be very helpful. Monitor always monitor.

  66. Great article. I agree in that we do need to be teaching with tech and media from an early age. The future will not have less of it, so being prepared and up to date on all of it will continue to be imperative. Also taking into consideration the variety of ways people learn, the use of tech and media allow teachers to reach more of those modalities.

    • I Totally agree with everything that you have said. Being a TA for the past three years, I have had the opportunity to experiences all of the different ways that students learn. We as educators must keep in mind that not any student is the same and they all learn very differently and meeting them where they are I have seen allows them to apply themselves a lot more.

  67. Times are changing . Children need to be exposed to media technology these days . I do think it should be monitored by parents and teachers

  68. I agree mostly with the statement from the article that says we must incorporate media literacy because it is our job to prepare kids for the world they live in, and not for the world we used to live in. We have to train them in this field because there will not be any type of job without these skills in the future.

    • To be good at anything it takes adequate preparation. The next great inventions of tomorrow are born early and depend upon educators ability to nurture each students’ spark into existence.

  69. This article was very informative. I talked about ways that children are learning through the media. It does not matter if they are young or old children have no problem picking up a phone or tablet searching the web to find out about the world. You have 2-3 year olds learning how to work a phone or tablet so I think it starts at home. So some of them no how to get to the media when they come to school so it is up to us as educators to turn it into a teachable moment where we both can enjoy to help promote learning in growth.

  70. Thank you for an educated response to parents/families, when they ask why we allow screen time, in the classroom. Your research is greatly appreciated.

  71. It is nice to finally have an educated response to parents, when they ask, why we allow their children screen time in the classroom. Thank you for taking the time to share your research.

  72. This article clearly states the many reasons for media literacy. As I was reading I don’t think there is anything about Multilanguage benefits for ESL or non English speaking students in primarily English classrooms. The possibilities are endless with proper use of media literacy. The sky is the limit with the amount of information a child is able to go after if given the chance. Well said!

  73. This is an informative article addressing so many of the things educators, parents and others question about using media with young children. This article presents very well thought out statements about how media literacy enriches the classroom and the learning experience. I have older children at home who through the past few years have gone almost solely to media platforms for learning. It is the direction we are going and you have presented an excellent argument for the cause.

  74. I do agree that children are exposed to media at home. We have the opportunity to show them how it can be used in a positive way.

  75. I do agree with lots of the information given to us, however, we don’t know the amount of screen time being given at home. I feel we can help the children understand good use of media and see it as educational instead of a reward to use or for harm.

  76. I really liked this article, I really believe that learning Media Literacy at a young age is beneficial for our children. Look at what is happening right now we need to do digital remote learning but over half or more children will not understand how a computer works.

  77. Devices have a useful place in the educational world, but face to face interaction is imperative for young students to learn to interact in the world around.

  78. There are often times that require personal interaction without a device or screen to enable children to learn how humans react to each other.

    • Diana, thanks for the comments. I know you weren’t suggesting this, but your comment gives me a chance to remind everyone reading this post that it calls for mandating media literacy education, not mandating digital devices. Big difference! Media literacy education includes screens, but it is about developing inquiry, reflection, and communication skills related to media. Using digital devices to teach content without helping children learn to think more deeply about the media they are using doesn’t really achieve the goals of media literacy education. Also, media literacy ed applies to media that are digital and also media that are not (e.g., books, posters, product packaging). We push for including screens because it’s tough to do media literacy education well without them, and because banning them typically also means nixing media literacy from the curriculum. But this isn’t about just handing kids a tablet so they can use an educational app or view a video.

  79. If young children experience screen time with devices is the way the adults experience them for the purposes of organization and keeping in touch with distrant relatives online, the device can be beneficial.

  80. You are living under a rock if you think we don’t need digital media in the classroom….most kids have a device in their hands everyday. We can teach them all the ways it is a helpful and beneficial learning tool.

    • I definitely agree. Today’s children are living in the digital would and is exposed to media at a very early age. Toddlers are often in shopping carts watching a video on their parent’s cell phone. They FaceTime their grandparents and play mobile games on their devices. The key here is limited screen time, intentional learning and adult interaction.

      • most children are aware of technology, They use it everyday. we as teachers need to help them to use the media technology the correct way.

  81. As a speech/language pathologist working with preschoolers, I know the value of using technology and digital tools to help children learn concepts, vocabulary, and even use as a voice to express themselves. I agree that adults need to be involved in monitoring why children are using the technology and should interact with the child while he/she is using a device as much as possible, however, technology should be viewed as a valuable resource to use in the education field and schools should embrace its benefits.

  82. I feel children/students should be familiar with technology. I disagree with spending all classroom and homework time using technology.
    My daughter is in 4th grade and all of her homework is assigned online watching videos on BrainPoP and completing a quiz after in all subject area. During her school day she spends half of her day completing assignments online.

  83. This article is great. In my classroom we use I pads to help with learning letters, writing the letters and some math skills. Though they are not available for use at free play, we use them for centers a couple times a week. We also use the school web site for posting pictures of the children so parents can see what their children are learning.

  84. The school I am out does not believe young children should be using digital media . They feel it would somehow slow down a young child’s brain. The director has read research to this effect. I do not know if this would be correct. If the technology is used in a construction manner for the sake of the child and they get specific times on the computer with direct guidance this should be to their benefit. Schools whether public or private should be more in touch with these procedures and strategies to help young children.

    • Linda, thanks for the comment. Your director’s belief is still far too common, especially given that the research is a lot more fuzzy than alarmist headlines would suggest. Folks who tend to oppose digital media rarely read the entire range of research lit, but instead are swayed by confirmation bias to find studies that affirm the position they want to take. We shouldn’t dismiss their very valid concerns, but we also need to acknowledge that negative effects tend to come only with very heavy use (hours and hours each day), or the research is more narrowly focused on failing to achieve a particular learning outcome (e.g., children not picking up reading or vocabulary from a particular app or video). If the brief case I’ve outlined in the blog post doesn’t spark a re-thinking, I’d suggest doing a site-wide pd reading and discussion of Vivian Vasquez’s work (either “Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children” or “Technology and Critical Literacy in Early Childhood.” I dare anyone to make the case that the uses of digital media integration that she describes are anything but excellent practice! Good luck.

  85. The points of digital media used with the classroom are valid and useful. It is true children/students need to be familiar with technology. It is the parent’s and teacher’s role to determine the appropriate use of it within the home and classroom. The goal is for the child to use it as a learning tool and enhancing learning/skills.

    • Yes. As the NAEYC tech position statement says, tech use with “intention.” I want to keep reminding folks that children don’t “need” to be familiar with tech as if it is something they will encounter in the future; they “are” familiar with tech. It’s all around them. So our job is to help them develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to live well in that world. And playing “keep away” rather than helping children develop healthy, thoughtful habits doesn’t seem like a very good ed strategy to me. =:) Thanks for keeping the thread going.

  86. I have noticed a difference over the last few years in my students. I teach for the district and we serve an at risk population. This year was by far the worst. My children lacked communication skills and general skills that a four year old should know. My personal thought is that this generation of parents keep a phone in their hand(social media) and use a tablet or phone as a baby sitter. We have many student who are English learners as well. We use to use a program called Waterford on our computers. This program was wonderful. Each students daily session is based on their own level. It was also a wonderful program for our ESOL learners. We no longer have access to this wonderful program. I do have i pads that I utilize with apps that teach skills that I choose. They are old and would love to have new ones but our administration says they already have to much screen time and I agree. The screen time in my classroom is educational and it also allows me to share ideas of apps for the parents to actual use at home instead of just playing games. I think as educators we know how to balance and use technology in our classroom. I do think that there needs to be more professional development in this area.

    • Definitely agree that more professional development is needed. I’ll also highlight again that the original post is about mandating MEDIA LITERACY not just using tech to teach (like using Waterford). Using tech to teach can be a good or awful thing, but it’s not the same as teaching the inquiry, reflection, and expression skills that are the core of media literacy.

      • I think it’s important to teach media literacy skills in the early childhood classroom. The article pointed out the importance of teaching children to ask the right questions and using media to learn in the technological world we live in. Teaching boundaries that are appropriate to age development should begin early. I’m anxious to learn appropriate and new ways to use digital media with groups of children and not as much about individual isolated use. I think we should be concerned that digital media can have negative effects on emotional face to face interaction with people and relationships. The early years is a place where children are learn how to interact with peers and other adults. This is a joyful time of life and important for development so care needs to be given when introducing technology at a young age.

  87. I’ve seen computerized literacy programs being used in Title I classrooms as an additional support for students to track their individual progress, and in kindergarten classrooms as a whole class learning experience to help with phonemic awareness. I think schools, and companies that publish curriculum materials have greatly increased over the past 10 years the value of what they offer during this intentional use of screen time.

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting how often people conflate the type of computerized learning you describe with media literacy. Actually, I’m not a fan of most of those programs. I’ve seen a few that, in VERY limited circumstances help kids who may be temporarily struggling with basic skills or learning English, but simply using tech isn’t the same as engaging children in media literacy. To transform computer use into media literacy, you’d need to engage children in inquiry about the features of the program itself. What sorts of images does it use and why? In addition to the skills, what else does it’s design and choice of imagery teach? Whose voices are included and whose are left out? And we’d want to help them reflect on when, how, and why they use computers in their lives. Media literacy is so much richer than students doing individual work on individual screens.

  88. Very interesting article. As a society, we all have grown up and considered all of these facts when we use technology in the classroom and when our own children use digital tools. Monitoring what children are looking at is the key. Knowing what children are looking at is important, more so than time spent on the computer. I also feel that appropriate content for learning is important. Until taught appropriate usage, children should not be able to use technology. Using technology for school work rather than fun should be first, so that they get use to what is appropriate and what isn’t. Digital tools in young children can be beneficial when used in a healthy manner.

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