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:
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.