Prof. Diane Levin Launches Screen Technology Guide for Educators

December 17, 2012

New guide addresses how excessive screen time impacts early childhood development 

Facing the Screen DilemmaSmart boards. Smartphones. Tablets. E-books, apps and more.  While more independent research is needed to fully understand the impact of excessive use of screen technologies on young children, studies from leading health organizations conclude that, regardless of content, too much screen time harms healthy growth and development.

Wheelock College Early Childhood Education Professor and co-author of Facing The Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology and Early Education, Diane Levin was motivated to create the guide because of concerns about how screen time interferes with the development and well being of children. The guide outlines that screen technology interferes with early childhood development in two essential areas: it takes away from active, hands-on creative play and important face-to-face interactions with caring adults.  As a result, excessive screen time can lead to undermining learning, poor school performance and difficult peer relationships.1

Facing the Screen Dilemma comes at a point when time spent with screen media is at a record high for children of all ages. The guide suggests that screen time is a poor learning tool for language and vocabulary for children under 3 and that there are actual links to delayed language attainment.2 By the time a child turns 10, every additional hour of television watched as a toddler is associated with lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity and victimization by classmates in middle childhood. 3 In addition to poor school performance and challenging relationships with peers, excessive screen time is also linked to childhood obesity and sleep disturbance. The guide recommends screen-free settings for children under two in all early childhood programs and encourages educators to work closely with parents around technology issues.

 "Educators using screens with young children should be intentional about their choices and determine beforehand exactly how a given technology will expand or enhance classroom goals for children," said Professor Diane Levin.  "It's important to choose screen activities carefully, establish rules and routines for their use, and provide clear boundaries so that screen time does not crowd out vital classroom activities."

Facing The Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology and Early Education is written and published by: the Alliance for Childhood, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE). The guide provides a much-needed overview of the research on screen time and young children so that educators can make informed decisions. 

At Wheelock College, Dr. Levin teaches courses on play, media literacy, violence prevention and peace building, and action research. As an internationally recognized expert, she helps professionals, parents and policymakers understand and respond to the impact of various societal forces on children-such as violence and sexualization, and media and commercial culture-on children's development and learning. She is a founder of Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment, Defending the Early Years and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Levin is the author or co-author of eight books including Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood which will be published in April.

Facing The Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology and Early Education is available online at the following sites: www.allianceforchildhood.org and www.facebook.com/screendilemma.

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