Value Passion Wherever You Find It
It’s been a busy couple of weeks! I’ve been running around the continent presenting at different events (ECRR at PLA) and attending a Brazelton Touchpoints Institute Early Care Education training, and there have been a number of articles published in various locations recently that have stirred up a lot of conversation in the LittleeLit Think Tank and on the interwebs generally.
First there was Cris Rowan’s 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12, which LittleeLit Think Tanker Megan Egbert responded to on her blog with 10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give my Children Handheld Devices. Then Dr. Dimitri Christakis, with whom LittleeLit Think Tanker Claudia Haines spoke in September, was disowned by Susan Linn of the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood for his op ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age of 2 Years:Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline?
I’m scrambling wildly to get caught up on my reading after a whole lot of business travel, trying to reconnect with my family, and feeling totally bummed that I won’t be presenting as originally planned at the New America Foundation’s Beyond Screen Time: Early Learning and Digital Media event in Washington DC this week, but I’m really appreciating the journey of contemplation, proselytization and moderation that this whole young children, new media & libraries movement has been. I truly feel like we’re coming to a place where civil & civilized conversation can begin to happen more regularly, and that the library can play an integral role in facilitating this conversation.
One of the questions I was asked at the completely packed ECRR2.0 session at PLA was “how do you deal with people who believe that we should not be using technology with young children?” I answered as best I could with the idea that people who firmly object to the use of digital media with young children do so because they are defending what they truly believe to be the best for the children in their care. I’m not sure if the answer was satisfactory for the asker, but this topic is a very complicated & important one with no easy answer or sliver bullet.
I’m going to be working with the California State Library Early Learning with Families 2.0 initiative to apply the Touchpoints Model of Development to the issue of young children, new media & libraries to provide a frame for discussion that moves us away from what Chip Donohue calls the “imaginary dichotomy” of pro-tech or no-tech, and more toward a realistic framework for addressing the needs of families raising children in a digital world. How can we as librarians support caretakers to make decisions for their little people by taking into consideration the whole child, within the context of family and community life?
When we find ourselves in heated arguments about “do we or don’t we?” when it comes to new media, let’s try to keep this guiding principle in mind:
Value passion wherever you find it.
If someone is railing against the use of technology with young children, it’s because they care. They really, really care. They want the best for children, as do most of us who also serve very small people. What a wonderful opportunity to model civil discourse.
Librarians: take a leadership role by facilitating this kind of conversation in your community. Value the contributions of everyone who participates in the discussion. There is no easy, black and white answer. Let’s keep the conversation open and moving forward.