Amazon launches first kid Kindle Kidscreen Reasons to read: Research has shown that kids learn better from real, paper books and not tablets – kids don’t need yet another screen pushed on them by Amazon!
Don’t Weaken Privacy Protections for Children New York Times Reasons to read: A powerful editorial from the New York Times supports our efforts to save the only law protecting kids’ privacy online. We’ll let you know next week how you can join this important campaign.
“I’m not a Luddite!” we emphatically add to our speeches, slides, podcasts, and conversations. Yes. I have heard even the most esteemed experts in our field essentially apologize for a low screen time philosophy. This week and next, I’ll be reflecting on how we position ourselves for success or failure with the words we choose and the risks involved in speaking up in the first place.
Today, the term “Luddite” can refer to anyone from a technophobe to someone who lives completely off the grid. Its origins tell a slightly different story. Textile workers in early 19th century England feared their jobs would be replaced by machines that would turn out an inferior product, and rightly so. They revolted by attacking the new automated looms with hammers. Ironically, taking a hammer to your smartphone is something people fantasize about every day! (C’mon. Don’t tell me the thought hasn’t crossed your mind.)
Tech-conscious professionals and parents may be accused of the same thing. But, our concerns of displacement, like the textile workers, are legitimate. Will tablets replace teachers in giving our children a meaningful preschool experience? Will Facebook and digital assistants be expected to comfort our elderly instead of crucial family and caregiver interactions?
I challenge Action Network members to be unapologetic in the way we approach our work. Here are some alternate methods I use to show that I support progress while protecting our smallest citizens:
1) The younger the child, the lower screen time should be. This is a great rule of thumb because it’s easy to remember and it answers the nagging question, “What age is the right age to introduce (fill in the blank with tablet, smartphone, laptop, etc.)” It also helps parents understand that children of different ages have different developmental needs without going into a complex explanation.
2) Computers have their place in schools, but should not be everywhere. This hearkens back to the good ol’ days when there were computer rooms in schools. Students could even go there to do work for their other classes, but they were supervised. And when the bell rings, time’s up—no app needed.
3) I’m not talking about adult screen time here. Several of our parent educators are scratching their heads as to why parents don’t show up to screen time workshops after a long hard day of work. Guess what? They want to watch football or The Bachelor. They’re afraid you’re going to tell them to change their own behavior. While it might be tempting, we want to make it clear that adults can make up their own minds, but children are vulnerable and need guidance and rules.
4) Ask yourself: why am I using computers with children? Plenty of people will want to tell you that the new app they’re using for kids is the best thing since sliced bread. They’ll want to explain how it makes learning easier, faster, better. When you ask them why, they are less clear. About a year ago I met with the director of a fantastic children’s museum and child care center that had recently added a tablet station. The tablets weren’t connected to a specific exhibit or developmental task. When I asked her ‘why’ the answer was strictly, “Well, we thought we should. We thought parents would be expecting it.” ‘Why’ can make people think.
Finally, Piaget did not apologize for explaining how children learn through tactile experiences and face-to-face interactions with loving adults. We do not need to make excuses, cower to pro-tech colleagues, or stay silent. I hope these suggestions remind you to be bold about the message—children’s screen time is an issue we plan to address with conviction!