Review Type: 
Flickr image courtesy of gcaserotti

How should you use new media devices with your child?

However you would like! These are your decisions as a caregiver, and we are here to support your choices. The following are simply recommendations.

Make a media plan. Think about apps used, hours spent, and who is using the media.

The key to media use with young children is joint media engagement. When an adult is there to give context to the app, it makes using a tablet into a learning opportunity. Just like reading a book, playing apps should be a collaborative activity with your child.

Let apps inspire real life play! Connect what you’re seeing in media to what you’re seeing in real life. For instance, after playing Build a Train, talk about things you’ve seen in the game in the car.

Be a media model! You are your child’s first model for media use.

Let your child navigate the app first at their own pace! We have chosen a lot of apps that encourage open-ended exploration, which helps develop creativity and critical thinking skills.

Connect your app use to the five early literacy practices: read, write, talk, sing, and play, all of which help get your child ready to read. We have sorted the app list to help you!


At what age should your child be using digital media?

Don’t forget, it’s up to you! However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two, though this recommendation excludes new media such as tablets. Other organizations, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Fred Rogers Center, have asserted that “All screens are not created equal” and that interactive apps need a different criteria. Technology, when used correctly, can be beneficial in the “context of conversation and interaction with an adult” - especially for babies and toddlers. Preschoolers and Kindergartners can benefit from free exploration of interactive apps, especially when connected to real life learning.


How do the librarians select apps for our library iPads?

We look at reviews from librarian sources, as well as test the apps out ourselves. We are looking for:

  • Open–ended interactive play
  • Very little in-app purchase options and no ads
  • Reinforces off-screen learning
  • Collaborative—can be used with caregiver
  • A clear educational objective
  • Something a grown-up can stand to use (not too annoying!)
  • Age-appropriate images and audio
  • Intuitive navigation

Looking for new app suggestions? Check out our kit list or stop by and ask a children's librarian for their latest recommendation!