Friday, March 28, 2014

Symposium Spotlight: Chip Donohue

Embrace Engagement: Thoughts on Chip Donohue’s Keynote on Young Children in the Digital Age

Devices and apps are part of the new “bandwidth of experience” according to Chip Donohue, PhD. With that in mind, there are a number of key points that I took from Chip’s keynote at the Early Literacy Symposium:
  •  Devices offer an opportunity for children to move from consumers of media to creators of media
  • Equitable access and digital citizenship are important arenas for libraries to target
  •  Collect your own evidence because the research is moving slower than the pace of new technology
  • Learn and share ways to let smartphones enhance the literacy experience – for instance, record a child reading to you or play with open-ended storytelling apps
  • Stay attuned to ongoing research and continued professional development on the subject

Librarians have an opportunity to be a mediator in the conflict over digital media pros and cons between caregivers and children. We do not have to be screen police. What we can offer is insight and advice to help bridge the digital gap between generations. We can stay informed, allow digital literates to educate us, encourage engagement and incorporate tech handling skills into our programs along with book handling skills. 

When parents or other caregivers ask us for advice or recommendations about apps or screen time, here are a few things we can share with them:
·         Find the balance and model turning it off
·         Engage with children in using media
·         Let devices and apps foster relationships – connect with friends and relatives who live in faraway places but are only a screen away
·         Be attentive to in-app purchases and commercial messages; some apps are worth paying for
·         Pay attention to an app’s privacy policies and what information they track on children and users
·         Turn screens off earlier if sleep disruptions pose a problem
·         What kids are doing while onscreen is different than how long they are onscreen
·         Devices and apps can offer an opportunity to be a content creator, a media maker, instead of a media consumer
·         Appropriate limits will vary from child to child and family to family

Asst. State Superintendent Kurt Kiefer
discusses technology and child
development with Chip Donohue 
Chip called the smartphone the “Swiss Army knife of tech” and many families that do not have Internet access may very well have a smartphone. Here is an opportunity for us to do as Fred Roger’s did and to make technology personal and to use it to nurture young children, to connect with new media and to foster child development.

This post brought to you by Symposium attendee:
Sarah Cournoyer
Assistant Director & Children's Librarian
Horicon Public Library