Touchscreen Generation Article Commentary for Librarians by Erin Holt @LibrarianE13


Cen’s son reading Rosin’s article before naptime

It took me almost a full hour to read and absorb Hanna Rosin’s The Touch Screen Generation – and then I went hunting for MORE and found an interview clip on NPR’s Here & Now, which was equally awesome.

Rosin’s article is really the first that I’ve read on “screen time” that wasn’t heavily swayed one way or another. So many articles about children and technology are either singing the praises of tablet technology, or screaming that all apps for children will turn their brains into mush.

Rosin takes a completely different and more practical approach to the whole issue of children (even toddlers and babies!) and technology. She frames the screen time issue for children in the same way we do for adults. As adults, do we always use devices for educational or financial projects? Do we use them to kill time waiting for appointments? Do we spend our lunch break scrolling through our Instagram feeds? Is there anything inherently WRONG with that?

She says it’s the same way with kids – it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be educational. So many parents seem to live in fear of  technology, either thinking it is ALL bad and/or feeling guilty for using an iPad to placate their toddler long enough to enjoy a meal at a restaurant. This series of quotes seems to sum things up rather well in my mind:

Screen shot 2013-04-06 at 9.06.34 PM

from Jason Griffey’s “The Future of Things”

This leads me to wonder HOW exactly the screen time issue effects libraries and librarians: technology IS here to stay, and, in my opinion, it is our job as librarians to serve our patrons in every format and/or to guide their healthy use of  technology with kids. All personal biases aside, we need to learn and embrace new and changing technologies, anticipate the needs of our patrons by giving them the services they deserve, and offer our communities what they need when they need it (not a decade later, which is a common library MO).

My advice for parents – each family has choices to make, the best you can do is read up on your options, talk to your local librarians, and make the most informed decision you can for your family. Know that technology is only moving forward. Don’t be shy – we aren’t here to judge, we are here to help, to educate, and to guide you to be comfortable with your decisions – whatever they turn out to be!

And lastly, as both a librarian AND a parent – I would advise you to keep current with these trends – and I don’t mean jumping on the bandwagon or saying NO technology for your children – take care and interest in reading about it. There is a LOT being written about this right now, and it’ll just keep coming.

Erin Holt
Reference Librarian
Williamson County Public Library


Posted on April 6, 2013, in Libraries, Media Literacy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thanks, as ever, Cen. I’ll set time aside to read through the articles which seem topical and interesting.

  2. Erin,

    I appreciate the questions you address but I think the important question facing all of us is: 

    How does current technology uses support or detract from a child’s development? 

    That is the “burning question” of our time, in my opinion.

    The answer to that question will determine how we help, educate and guide patrons.  For librarians to be credible and confident in offering this guidance, we surely need more than Doug Adams’ philosophy. I think that the more we are focused on the child’s developmental needs, the more valuable our guidance will be.  

    We are caught in a time when authoritative sources have not yet provided full or clear answers.  Yet there is enough research to raise concerns. In such a time, I think we are better off erring on the side of caution.


    Sent from my iPad

  3. That’s a good point about development but the fact is no one knows or will know until the current generation is grown up. And the other fact is technology is not going away nor the deluge of information being thrown at parents regarding tech and their children. The educational app business is exploding.

    Being cautious is one thing, but coming from a position of fear is another. The adult world of our children will be very technical and there is a growing divide as more services move online. They will have to know how to utilize it and be comfortable, more adaptable than we are today with technology. At the same time, just like tv, everything in moderation with supervision and be aware of the example that you are setting.

    Thankfully librarians have resources such as SLJ app recommendations that we can share with parents. If librarians are unwilling to provide advice on it, people will just go elsewhere as they have for other services (Amazon, Google…). Libraries already operate a bit behind the tech curve what with budget constraints and all. We need to be strong in our awareness of tech, child development, and early literacy as it all merges in the next century to provide the best services possible.

  4. Hi KathyK,
    I see your point – however, studies are constantly being run, apps are constantly being developed and gone through many protocols before they are released. The children born today are growing up with this technology whether we like it or not – depriving them of it 100% could lead to other issues as they begin school etc. Personally, I was against it for the longest time – but the more I read – the more I discovered it was here to stay – and I accepted that… I was also against Twitter for even longer – however, since joining, my professional development has enhanced twofold. Like I said in the article, I feel it is best to review all of your options and make the decision that you are comfortable with – and as librarians, it is our duty to inform our patrons about these issues and then let THEM make their own decisions.

  5. Yes, I agree that we won’t fully know all the effects of screend technology for a very long time. This is the reason to be cautious. What happens for a child in the 0-5 years can’t be taken back. There is no do over. We can only do our best by them according to the information we have at any given moment. Now, the information tells us to keep it very limited. Our guidance can and should be based in what we know is really good for child development. That doesn’t include screen time. Screen time, as far as we know, involves risks of obesity, sleep loss, attention loss, etc. By not promoting screen time, we help avoid those risks. That is good thing. No?

  6. Erin,
    I have no problem with the technology being here and staying here. Technology isn’t inherently good or bad. We always have choices as to if, how and when we use it. Libraries and librarians have choices as to if and when to use and promote this technology. From what we know, screen time for kids 0-5 involve risks that we can and should avoid, for the best possible benefits to kids that we serve.
    There is no evidence at all to say that kids will be harmed if they have no or little screen time during the intensely developmental years. The evidence says the opposite. And I think of Gates and Jobs and Zuckerberg who had relatively very little screen time during their earliest years and went on to technological greatness and much personal success. No. Screen time for kids this young meets no developmental needs that aren’t better met with real-world materials and people.

  7. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the
    near future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something
    unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  1. Pingback: Touchscreen Generation Article Commentary for Librarians by Erin Holt @LibrarianE13 | tnloveslibraries

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