“Are children spending too much time in front of the screen?” This question is one of the many concerns and topics of debate among parents, physicians and educators. Children are now growing up in a world where technology and media screens are prevalent in homes, schools, stores, restaurants; virtually every aspect of their lives. The issue up for discussion is what should be an appropriate amount of screen time for a child throughout the day?
Research and guidelines from organizations such as Fred Rogers Center, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Environment Rating Scales Institute varies on what is determined to be an ample amount of screen time. According to AAP, evidence is sufficient to recommend time limitations on digital media use for children 2 to 5 years of no more than 1 hour per day to allow children ample time to engage in other activities important to their health and development and to establish media viewing habits associated with lower risk of obesity later in life (“Media and Young Minds”). However, Fred Rogers Center and NAEYC advises technology and interactive media are tools that can promote effective learning and development when they are used intentionally to support learning goals established (NAEYC 2009a). Monitoring the exact amount of screen time a child has throughout a day is almost impossible to determine, especially with the vast amount of devices children have access to between home and school like tablets, televisions, gaming consoles, computers, smartphones and so forth.
Overall, passive use of technology such as watching television or playing video games by children should be limited while interactive and engaging use of technology such as joint-engagement games, dance videos and educational activities should be encouraged and implemented by parents and educators. Technology should be balanced and correlate with dramatic play, gross motor, art, reading, and other real world activities. Doing so will meet the needs of differentiated learners through hands-on, visual, auditory and linguistic concepts and activities. The Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette Inc. has taken initiative of ensuring our preschool classrooms in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County and Head Start/Early Head Start of Beaver County are properly equipped with appropriate classroom technologies for children to be engaged, interact and learn.