To App, To Tablet, To Smart Phone or Not? Parenting Little Ones in the Digital World

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.

Oh my goodness.  It's all a bit overwhelming isn't it?  Studies that say NO SCREEN time for young children, others that say it's not a big deal, and more that say your child can learn a lot from the right kind of digital media.  

New Study Released

Earlier in the month, Northwestern University released a study called "Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology" and CNN gives us the cliffs notes version: "US Parents not Worried About Kids' Digital Media-Use,"  which is what I have read so far, but am looking forward to a more detailed view. It is interesting to see the pulse of the parents nationwide because according to many of the research associations, we should be more wary of our children's media exposure, aka, screen time.  I was surprised by CNN's claim because, while most parents that I am around use media with their children, there always seems to be some sort of guilty disclaimer that accompanies the child watching the movie or using the apps on Daddy's smart phone. 

My Perspective - As an Awkward Parent 

Here it is from my point of view as the parent of an almost one year old (ahhhh, she's turning one!).  I am not an expert in the early education field but I AM a parent and therefore want to make the right early education choices for my child so I feel the pressure.  The same pressure any of you are feeling that are experience this schizophrenic experience of giving your child your smart phone for 5 seconds and then hearing the voices of the latest study you read that says NO media until they are 2.  

Two?!  According to these studies - Mommy Fail.  Don't get me wrong, I highly respect the American Academy of Pediatrics and depend on them for their studies and wisdom but this was just not going to happen in my house.  And I needed to come to terms of not feeling guilty about it (I know all of you parents are laughing; not guilty when raising kids, impossible!).

This is what I decided.  Balance.  I try to keep balance in mind whenever I am about to take hold of the studies, theories, thoughts, opinions, observations and anything else my mommy brain has been overwhelmed with since I found out a human being was growing inside of me and the success of its initial growth altogether hinged on what I did or did not do.  Phew...did I say there was pressure?

My child has absolutely been exposed to media but it has been with an awareness of how that media may or may not be affecting her.  I wanted to share with you resources, that include all sorts of studies, theories, suggestions etc.  It will be ever growing, add your own too!  Let's help each other find all of the opinions and then find the balance that is good for us.


In the meantime, these four tips from the Fred Rogers Center are easy to remember and implement, click on the link for details:

1) Keep it interactive

2) Match use with age

3) Have fun, stay engaged

4) Promote digital literacy

We have compiled a list of resources that you can access and add to, vote and comment on as well (for help click here)!  Click on the link "Children and Media Resources" below.  


Samantha Marshall, M.A.

Samantha is, just like you, excited to make a difference in our community and our world. With a Master of Arts degree in English Literature, you might ask how she found herself building and writing for a website focused on child care. From 1995 through 2001, Samantha started her career working for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors which introduced her to the importance of non-profits, community and quality child care. Her experience with Sponsors, State Officials, and Family Child Care Providers left a great and lasting impression. Later in her career and her most recent position at SAGE Publications, an academic publisher, was as a product manager for a new online resource! During this time many of Samantha's passions collided. A love for the written word, children and the proliferation of knowledge as well as a fascination with the resources the internet gives us, building a community for child care on is the perfect way to make the difference she wanted to. Needless to say, she is very excited to be an active part of creating and building