The early childhood private sector education has a myriad of variations when it comes to choices for parents and the education of children. Programs such as Montessori, Walldorf, Reggio Emilio, STEM and call them ‘basic daycare,’ can be seen in every major corner of most major cities. Some of these programs are accredited, others follow the primary guidelines of the Department of Children and Families within each state or municipality. Early childhood education has had major gains in research and promotion on the needs of early intervention and impact that it has on reading, language and school success. However, there is lack of interest on the topic of media literacy and the appropriate technology usage for young learners. Parents, educators and program directors are at times oblivious on the impact that technology may have on the physical, emotional and psychological effect and affect on children. As a program director of a preschool for children ages 6 months to 5 years old; the topic of media literacy, technology appropriateness and media education has not been so relevant, as it has become the forefront topic in every home and classroom due to the Covid-19 crises.
Media literacy (or lack there off) in the early childhood arena began long before Covid-19 was even in the picture. The car ride to and from school cannot be managed, as stated by most of my parents, without a child holding a technological device in his or her hands, as they point their fingers to maneuver through the singing text, videos and games along the highway. In the classroom, content is explained through images as well via resources in the media. It is a blessing that the American Academy of Pediatrics has upheld a strong position in the fight against media influence on the brains of young children, advising no screen time before the age of 2 years old. However, as pointed out by Jordan Shapiro in his Forbes article, “Here is the AAP’S revised guidelines on children and screen time: Media is just another environment” (2015), which changes the stance on the outlook on how technology is used today. Four years later in 2019, Steven Reinberg disclosed in his WebMD article, “a new study using brain scans showed that the white matter in the brains of children who spent hours in front of the screen wasn’t developing as fast as it was in the brains of kids who didn’t.” The author, as well, emphasizes that the loss of social interactions and technological over-usage brings about dysfunction in social engagement, cognitive behavior, and mental processing speed.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the brick-and-mortar schoolhouse was transcribed to the virtual platform of online learning. Early childhood centers mandated to close their doors for some time, panicked to begin online instruction and/or totally closed shop. In the midst of the unknown, many directors, like myself began planning and researching how to make online learning age-appropriate, how to integrate useful applications for online learning and develop media education policies overall. In this review of pertinent online resources, the following will be addressed: the campaign for a commercial-free childhood (ccfc)- The Guide to Choosing Tech for Young preschoolers; the Center of Media Literacy- An Overview & Orientation Guide to Media Literacy Education; the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)- Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States and finally an outlook from a different country, Canada’s Center for Digital and Media Literacy- Mapping Digital Literacy and Practice. Each resource chosen will allow implementation of changes within my current center on the policies and practices. The ccfc allows for considerations to be made to choose appropriate preschool apps for children, which can be a resource for parents and teachers alike. The MediaLit, Literacy Review allows from theory to practice overview on how to appraise media and what questions educators should have upon choosing resources. NAMLE focuses on the inquiry and critical thinking components in media literacy review. Finally, the MediaSmarts site allows for an overview on implementation in Canadian schools, thoroughly assessing the ever-changing practices of media within the classroom and at home.
campaign for a commercial-free childhood (ccfc)
The article, Safe, Secure & Smart: A Guide to Choosing Tech for your Preschooler, is a three-part explanation in assisting with choosing an appropriate online application to promote learning of preschool children. “With so many choices- and so much hype- it can be hard to know which apps are actually educational, age-appropriate and safe” (Campaign for a commercial-free childhood, 2021). The guide opens with an explanation on how preschoolers learn best, advocating the four pillars: children need to be active; kids need engaged, resources of any kind should bring meaning to the lives of children and socialization is a crucial part of learning. The guide then proceeds with steps needed for caregivers and parents in choosing the right application as an educational tool. Checking out the claims the site makes and making sure that safety is on the forefront while using the app, are the primary steps prior allowing usage. Educators and parents are advised to be part of the learning process as children are allowed to use the online app for learning. In finale, the article concludes that less technology the better it is for the child for his/her development, as well as stating that this is an unrealistic feat in today’s age of technology.
The Safe, Secure & Smart: A Guide to Choosing Tech for your Preschooler was a helpful resource to begin acknowledging the right steps needed to choose an application with proper safety measures at hand. The document was very accessible and provided along with guidance, a checklist for quick evaluations of app. A resource such as this brings awareness to an issue without over-loading the reader, therefore it can be used as a resource guide for families of young children.
Campaign for a commercial-free childhood or the ccfc allocates a plethora of video resources and articles which educate readers on the importance of technology. When filing through the changes needed within my own early childhood center, I realized that there was no resource which guided parents on how to choose an appropriate app. The article, as much as it was a great read, will take time to digest. However, the following checklist is a quick and easy way that this information can be enforced and managed. This school year, this checklist will be emailed for parental review. Next school year, the checklist will be added to the parent handbook as part of the center’s guidelines and procedures. See the checklist and use it as a helpful resource for young learners: SafeSecureSmartChecklist (commercialfreechildhood.org)
MediaLit: Center for Media Literacy
The 2nd Edition Literacy for the 21st Century by MediaLit written by Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Toll was an extraordinary document, presenting over 80-pages of thought-provoking questions and guidance for educators. First, the authors present the work on how the media is a new way of learning. Within the framework an introduction on media literacy as well as a synopsis about the book and handouts to be used to better guide the reader ae included. Jolls & Thoman (2008) state the following “Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate using messages in a variety of forms—from print to video to the internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy” (p.42).
The document from the Center of Media Literacy was a great way to introduce the importance of what media literacy is and what are the proper way to teach in the age of technology using resources within the influence of the media literacy kit. The document shows that children need to questions and “interrogate” the world around them, allowing them to be creative and dynamic thinkers, as oppose to memorization machines. The beauty of this work can be viewed by the dismantling of the cliché that technology is bad because the guidance that it provides questions the message, the messenger and the final receiver. In this pattern, educators learn how to assess and incorporate technology to better impact their classrooms and their lessons.
The center for Media Literacy in its Overview & Orientation Guide to Media Literacy Education allows for center directors and leaders, like myself, to have a great way to introduce media literacy to the staff within the institution. The guide may be used during a teacher workshop and is functional when implementing changes to how teachers may find resources online. For example, pages 60 to 62 of the guide discuss how to conduct a close analysis of media text. The steps are as follows: access, analyze, evaluate, create, participate. These types of integrated protocols allow educators to better understand the procedures to follow when choosing media, as well as having policies in the classroom which students needs to pursue in order to do high quality research. The Media Literacy resource will be added to the teacher planning literature for the beginning of the next school year within my institution.
NAMLE: National Association for Media Literacy Education
The National Association for Media Literacy introduces a document for educators within the K-12 sphere of learning. The document shares core principles which require “inquiry and critical thinking about the message we receive and create” (National Association for Media Literacy, 2007). The expansion of literacy from reading and writing to all media fashions is discussed as part of the 21st Century paradigm in the modern classroom. As stated within the docket “media literacy education recognizes that media are part of culture and function as agents of socialization” (National Association for Media Literacy, 2007).
The NAMLE resource is a concise document with defined measure on media literacy. The 6 principles given can be implemented as a resource for the administrative team which can enhance the implications into practice. The overall piece maybe too cumbersome as an addition for a teacher resource but is a great source for directors and school leaders.
A great document which can be used from the NAMLE website is the following: media_literacy_onesheet.pdf (namle.net). The document may guide teachers and students alike in questioning media literacy resources found online. This one-pager can be introduced to learners of all ages to peek their skills in assessment of media and its influence over people and their choices.
MediaSmarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy
Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy introduces a review on the importance of the ever-changing landscape of technology within each providence and territory in Canada. The document shows how different areas define and use media literacy. The review points out the need to understand that media literacy is changing the ways we learn, live and communicate; therefore a constructive review is given on how to incorporate technology and create “ digital citizen initiative are central digital literacy curriculum across Canada” (Hoechsmann & DeWaard, 2015).
To gain better insight on the changes in media literacy, it is often interesting to look at how our competitors are incorporating usage. As to the fact that we are in the business of education, it is necessary to look through a lens of another county, who at the current moment has a more organized approach to media literacy than the Untied States, where each singer (school) has its own version of the ballad (curriculum).
Assessing the Canadian educational landscape, leaders and educators alike can learn the context of media literacy beyond the presentation within the United States. For personal use of this document, I will allocate time to piece my educational institution’s own media policy with the references of ideas, definitions and overviews from Canada’s territories and providences which individually map out their stance on media and technology within the classroom.
Running behind the train is at times more suitable than not running at all. In this reference, the research on media literacy and its implications to my own educational institution are vital to incorporate, create and emphasize the changes which are altering the sphere of education. Pre-Covid and post-Covid, there is much to do to prepare for the digital age of learning. The questions stem on the inclusion of resources which help all stakeholders: parents, teachers, children and administrators, rate and decipher the noise within this space. The campaign for a commercial-free childhood (ccfc)- The Guide to Choosing Tech for Young preschoolers; the Center of Media Literacy- An Overview & Orientation Guide to Media Literacy Education; the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)- Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States and finally an outlook from a different country, Canada’s Center for Digital and Media Literacy- Mapping Digital Literacy and Practice, are all profound literature pieces to implement, discuss and use to create policies, procedures and protocols for media literacy education.
Campaign for a commercial-free childhood. (2021). Safe, Secure, & Smart: A Guide to Choosing Tech for your Preschooler. ccfc. https://commercialfreechildhood.org/pf/safe-secure-smart-apps/
Center for Media Literacy, Jolls, T., & Thoman, E. (2008). LITERACY for the 21st Century (2nd Edition). Center for Media Literacy. https://www.medialit.org/sites/default/files/Lit%2021st%20Cen%202nd%20Ed.pdf
MediaSmarts, Hoechsmann, M., & DeWaard, H. (2015). Mapping Digital Literacy Policy and Practice in the Canadian Education Landscape. MediaSmarts. https://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/publication-report/full/mapping-digital-literacy.pdf
National Association for Media Literacy. (2007). Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States. NAMLE. https://namle.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Namle-Core-Principles-of-MLE-in-the-United-States.pdf
Shapiro, J. (2015, September 30). The American Academy Of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines On Kids And Screen Time. Forbes, 1–3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2015/09/30/the-american-academy-of-pediatrics-just-changed-their-guidelines-on-kids-and-screen-time/?sh=7d87c4185c40
Reinberg, S. (2019). Too Much Screen Time May Stunt Toddlers’ Brains. WebMD Archives, 1–2. https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20191105/too-much-screen-time-may-be-stunting-toddlers-brains