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How Digital Media Supports Learning in Children

by Deanna Glick

essentials

June 24, 2014

How Digital Media Supports Learning in Children

You want to know what’s great about June, darling? Well, there are lots of things. But one of the great things about June is how Jubilant it is. That’s why we’re celebrating Jubilant June, by offering a giveaway every day for the next week. (Because nothing says jubilant like a giveaway, amiright?!) We have a wide variety of things to giveaway items – from books to pacifier holders to Smuckers Fruit-Fulls! Come back daily and celebrate June with us!


 

The Fred Rogers Center has devoted a lot of time to exploring the topic of digital media and young children. While the topic often sparks skepticism about its value or even concerns about potential damage, the FRC has found digital media can have many benefits when used correctly. Here’s a summary of the findings:

Media can help young children learn.

Technology and interactive media can be effective tools for learning in early childhood programs, in libraries, museums, and other informal education settings, and at home with parents.

Media should be used in developmentally appropriate ways.

 Children under age 2 should be using media with an adult.

Don’t insert technology when a real-world experience will do.

 Kids need to dig in the dirt, experience the natural world, and read actual books. Technology should be used to enhance what’s already going on in kids’ lives and in their classrooms, not supplant it.

Time with adults still matters most.

Learning is most likely to occur when children are having warm, language-rich interaction with their adult caregivers. When using media with children, parents and educators should always ask themselves whether this kind of interaction is also happening.

Promote Creativity.

Developmental psychologists tell us that creative play helps children learn to understand themselves and other people, and the world and their place in it. With children exposed to digital tools at younger ages, parents and caregivers need to ensure that digital tools enhance and don’t detract from this critical creative exploration.

Diversity matters.

Diversity means more than just race or gender. Adults should be choosing media for their children that show characters who act, talk, and communicate in a diverse ways and whose lives reflect their real experiences.

Pay attention to context.

Parents should pay attention to what’s going on in the home and family while the child is using media. Media scholar Daniel Anderson says having a television on in the background can interfere with babies’ and toddlers’ natural play. “The TV sports program may distract the child from constructive toy play,” he writes. “The parent updating Facebook may be unresponsive to the child’s social bids, and the teen game player is unavailable to read to his younger sibling.”

Seek guidance from experts.

Luckily there are many places to turn, such as Common Sense Media, which has online ratings and reviews for parents and educators, as well as app-organizing systems like Yogi Play that prod parents and educators to become critical thinkers about how to use and choose digital media for young children.

Finally, parents might consider exploring K12’s rich selection of educational games and activities and mobile apps as well as our new Pre-K learning program to find out how children can benefit from these innovative learning tools.


 

Deanna Glick is Senior Editor of Learning Liftoff. She has spent two decades as a writer and editor, covering education policy, adoption, and other issues of interest to children and families. Deanna has also worked and volunteered for youth-focused nonprofits, including Students Run LA and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She often finds writing inspiration through her 8-year-old daughter, who loves to read, paint, play sports and learn.


 

 

Bebe Belay clip and tab design keeps pacifiers, lovies, and all of those small toys from falling to the floor.

 

 

 

 

How do you set healthy boundaries with your kids and media?

Related topics: Tips, Technology, Teach, Life, Encouraging

Share your thoughts

I monitor what they watch and play, and designate a specific amount of time each day for those things. And some days it's less and sometimes it's more!!!

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Having specific times or amount of times is a great idea! They kids always do better when they know the boundaries up front! Thanks!

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Having lots of books and board games and Legos handy,,

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Elizabeth, finding the toys that really catch the kids attention is the key! Good idea!

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When we watch tv shows we watch together.

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That's always a fun family activity! My kids love to watch shows together as a family!

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Have to remind myself to put the phone away sometimes since little eyes are watching me use it.

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That might be the toughest part! That is a great reminder, they are learning from us and watching how we use technology. Thanks!

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My little one is only 10 months old but she is well aware of the television and tablets. We have already enforced rules on ourselves to keep her little eyes on faces and the world around her.

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It's amazing how early they begin to know how to use these little devises! It's always good to remind them to see what is around them!

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I really try to monitor what our kids watch. It seems like things have changed quite a bit since I was a kid. We also use tickets to earn media time.

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Alissa, there's a couple of you here mentioning media tickets. I don't know why I thought of it sooner! Using media as currency is a great way to instill the values of managing money later!

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we try to make sure all media that is allowed is educational. Also if we think they are having to much media then we put a child lock on the media console and encourage them to use their imagination and play with their toys or make a craft. My kids love craft time.

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Tiffany, some of my favorite tv as a kid was educational. I LOVED the shows on PBS like Square one and MathNet. (It's also possible I was kind of a nerdy kid. :))

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We allow 1 hour of electronics a day. They can choose to spend it all at once or in small amounts.

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Katherine, I'm on board with giving the kids the freedom to choose how they are going to use their allotted amount of time. Just as long as it doesn't lead to a decision-making conundrum. :)

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We have "screen time tickets." They are worth an hour of screen time. My big kid gets 2 a day. He can earn more or lose them depending on behavior. The baby gets PBS kids when I need my sanity. I get Minecraft after the kids have gone to bed for my screen time. :)

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Emma, you guys use screen time like currency! I like this idea!

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Yes, we do. Find their currency and use it! Some kids currency is toys or treats. Mine is screen time! You have to find what works for your family!

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They only watch videos on Netflix and on DVD so no ads (or "brainwash" as they call it). We try to limit the time to 30 minutes/day. Sometimes they watch more, sometimes they don't watch at all.

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Lindsay, Netflix has to be one of the most amazing inventions of all time. No commercials. Special kid accounts. It's pretty genius.

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Not so good on this one. The TV is almost always on. But she doesn't look at the phone or iPad (except to look at pictures). Excited to read other ideas about this.

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Christie, it seems so far like there's lots of ideas - different for each family situation. I hope you find some input from others that's helpful!

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We only allow our daughter to watch television or play on the tablet at certain times of the day, and almost always as a family. She is only 3 and we want to be sure we are monitoring what she is exposed to. I think a timer is a great idea and I know that I should be more disciplined with my usage, especially on facebook. Perhaps naptime would be more productive if I was! :)

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Shari, hahaha! Oh man, I think I would be scared if I added up all the time I was on Facebook and found out how much it actually is. ;)

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We limit screen time for our 5 yo to 1 hr a day. He knows that if he uses his 2 shows during the day then he won't be able to play Kinnect video games with Dad in the evening. Of course we do make exceptions and try to be flexible. He can earn an extra show by being an extra good helper and family movies nights become an extra special treat. I think I need a timer/limit for my personal computer screen time though....

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Krista, limits up front are really solid. That way the little one can decide for themselves how they want to use it. :)

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I now turn off the tv when playimg on the floor or reading to my 7 month old daughter. That way her focus is on the task at hand and not the background.

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Kimberly, it's amazing to realize how much I was multitasking until I learned to turn the tv off sometimes! Kudos to you!

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