While the ubiquity of smartphones and computers often raises questions on the unclear long-term impacts of our heavy exposure to video screens, new research on using technology in early childhood shows some of the positive effects of interactive digital media. Studies at Temple University show that everyday tools like Skype and FaceTime can create fundamental social environments for toddlers to learn words just as well as they could in physical face-to-face interactions. And according to the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative, several programs reveal positive screen time at work for children and adults alike.
The WGBH-sponsored Next Generation Preschool Math program leverages math apps with pattern and matching games to help early elementary students in number recognition. The Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab’s Message from Me project fosters digital literacy in digital photography and message-recording, all the while strengthening the communication skills of young students. Georgetown’s Baby Elmo program uses Sesame Street character interactions instead of lectures on parenting to build relationships and bridge the communication gap between incarcerated teen parents and their young children.
These and similar innovations can turn video screens into playgrounds for learning. Can you imagine other challenges to our negative perceptions of screen time? Join the discussion on Vialogues.Excerpts from the discussion:
@00:18 TYDigitalKids: Not all screen interactions are created equal. It is simplistic to critique children's screen time and ignore the emergent interactive digital plays available on screen.
@02:44 mpowers: I wonder if the games that are designed for children to play alone to develop skills have any advantage over non-educational-specific games. Wouldn't any game be teaching something to young children who are still in the explorer/sponge stage?...
@3:16 danahaugh: Video modeling has potential for teaching parenting skills without lecturing children.. but does that take away some of the impact/poignancy? Are children able to respond to video in the same way they respond to a parent?