5 Things every parent, caregiver and educator should know about “screen time” and media use with young children

By  – 
Posted In:

Dr. Chip Donohue, director of the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson Institute, recommends five things every parent, caregiver, and educator should consider when thinking about “screen time” in the digital age:

  1. All screens are not created equal. Look for experiences that are interactive, include positive interactions with others and give children control.


  1. Shift from “how much” children watch to “what they watch.” Consider the quality of the content, level of engagement and opportunity for interactions.


  1. Manage your own screen use thoughtfully. Children learn habits by watching the adults around them, so model healthy media habits early and often.


  1. Watch together. Joint engagement with media promotes learning.


  1. Plan for unplugged time. Ask, “What can we do together when we turn off the screen?” Encourage playtime, including outdoor time.


“Most screen time limits are based on one child passively watching one TV,” Dr. Donohue says. “Technology and our understanding of it have come a long way.”


Don’t have time to research the best shows and apps? Start with a few minutes of “joint engagement”—watching or playing on a device with your child—or simply ask your child questions about what he or she is watching, Dr. Donohue says.

Family Engagement in the Digital: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors, Edited by Chip Donohue, PhD

Family Engagement in the Digital: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors, Edited by Chip Donohue, PhD, hits bookshelves Fall 2016.

February 25, 2016
ICE 2016 Early Childhood Play, Tech and Innovation Workshop #TeacherTakeaway with Hip Hooray K
Read a great teacher takeaway from Hip Hooray in K our play, technology and innovation in early childhood full-day workshop with Illinois Computing Educators (ICE). Read more →
early childhoodtechnologywhat we’re doing
January 9, 2016
Reflections on #TechEarlyLit
In summarizing our observations from the December 10, 2015 #TechEarlyLit forum, we note: "Nudging parents/caregivers to continue to make progress toward their goals and providing positive encouragement is not new or revolutionary. What’s unique about these projects with strong ratings is how the technology was leveraged in the process." As we turn our calendars from 2015 to 2016, we invite you, the TEC Center community, to reflect on your relationships with parents and caregivers. Read, reflect, and respond. Read more →