This week's early literacy tip is all about evaluating children's apps. You may have heard the wide variety of recommendations about apps and small children, but it seems that the consensus is that apps and tablets can be used to help develop early literacy skills when used right, and when the right app is selected. There is still no definitive research about the effect of "screen time" on young children's development, but there are some great guidelines out there.
One of them is the "3 Cs of Evaluating Early Literacy Apps", outlined in this Slate article by Lisa Guernsey (author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media-from Baby Videos To Educational Software-affects Your Young Child). If you want to use a tablet with your little one and are curious about what apps might be educational (because, according to a report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 72 percent of iTunes’ “education” apps are designed for preschoolers and elementary school children), a great guide is thinking about:
Content: "Be picky about the content of what children see on-screen, and when choosing interactive titles, seek out those that put children in control without so many dead-ends and distractions. (Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization, is making this a little easier with its just-released website that rates apps for their learning potential.)"
Context: "Focus on context by being aware of what is happening before, during, and after children play their games or watch their shows, taking time to talk about what they’ve seen, and play some games together."
Child: "...tune in to which games and shows really interest your kids, what piques their curiosity and helps them relate to people and things around them."
The best way to use apps is to use them together, and choose apps that make you and your child active, rather than passive consumers. Make it a shared experience, play and explore, and you will be setting you child up for early literacy success.
Here are some other helpful resources:
Darien Library's current list of selected apps
Darien Library's post on What Makes a Great App
National Association for the Education of Young Children: Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8
American Association of Pediatrics: Media Use by Children Under 2 years of Age
Zero the Three: Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight