Moving Beyond the Debate on Technology and Young

Moving Beyond the Debate on Technology and Young

Moving Beyond the Debate on Technology and Young Children

Warren Buckleitner

Children’s Technology Review



The debate about technology and young children.

What kind of child do we want to raise?


What is a screen?

Assessing quality

The NAEYC position statement.

About me:

One of six kids, grew up and taught in Michigan, live in


BS Elementary Education, CMU

MA Human Development, Pacific Oaks

Ph.D., Educational Psychology, Michigan State


Sr. Consultant, High/Scope Foundation

Preschool and elementary teacher (yes, I made snacks)

Reviewer: CTR, Scholastic Parent & Child, New York


I attempt to be objective, but please see: and make up your own mind.

Parent of two daughters.

Member of the “B’s” NAEYC Technology Interest


One of many who advised on the NAEYC position statement.­‐1.pdf

The debate

Did you hear about kids and digital media?

… it promotes learning ...

See Henry Jenkins’ “transmedia,” or Mark Prensky’s “digital natives.” (

You’ve no doubt longed for some of MacArthur Foundation’s five-year, $50 million digital media and learning money? See

… it makes kids smart! ...

… is healthy ...


to learn about Robert Wood Johnson’s

$8.25 million Health Games Research initiative.

… it’s unhealthy ...

A lot of energy and media attention goes to keeping kids “safe.” Groups like the Coalition for a Commercial Free Childhood, the Alliance for

Childhood remind us that technology use with children should be studied.

… it causes mental illness...

Extensive research review by Rowan indicated that many of children’s school performance issues were related to increased use of TV, videogames and internet. As child developmental delays and behavior disorders continued to escalate, Rowan stepped away from the school setting and developed Zone’in Programs Inc. home to

Zone’in Products



, and



… kids use it a lot.

“Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time)

they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes

(10:45) worth of media content into those 7½


I read all these studies and think, what does it all mean. And then I ask a kid “does technology make your life better” and they say...



What kind of child do we want to raise?

Technology behaviors

Less desirable More desirable

Technology behaviors

Less desirable More desirable

Unhealthy (defined by you) use of video games, inappropriate content.

Puts tech ahead of people.


Unaware of the power.


Controls rather than controlled by the technology.

Understands ads, google ads, Facebook sponsors and online profiles.

Can handle a debit card.

WASHINGTON  — A married congressman from upstate

New York resigned suddenly Wednesday after a scandal erupted over emails and a shirtless photo supposedly sent to a woman in response to a Craigslist dating ad.

Writing a Children’s Book

Becoming President

A Child as Tree

Solving Global Warming

Technology is like Fertilizer....

Access to quality, developmentally appropriate technology at each stage can increase a child’s chances of bearing fruit.

But too much can burn the plant.

View it from a theoretical framework:

How would each see technology?

Lev Semenovich

Vygotsky (1896-1934)

Abraham Maslow


BF Skinner



Jean Piaget


Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, Talks About his

Montessori Education, and His First Computer

Technology examples


Babies & Toddlers

Birth to 2

Rattles, toys & apps like doorbells, piano keys and light switches, high in cause/effect that are “food for the senses.”

Symbolic representations less effective at this stage, especially if non-interactive or are low in child control.

A mellow cat.

Sound Shaker

Builds music, melody, rhythm, causality. zinc Roe Design.

$2. Ages 2-4.


3-to 5-Years

Tools for creative expression.

Offer a choice of easy-to-use, well designed apps and video games, on various platforms like the iPad, Nintendo DS,

Leapster, MobiGo or iPod Touch. Let them develop a sense of “I know how to make this work” through play.

Digital cameras


Bedtime stories.

Toontastic, $3, Launchpad Toys (iPad) being used by a preschooler

Moo Baa La La La!

Builds language. Loud Crow Interactive. $3. Ages 2-5.


Turn your iPhone screen into beautiful paint-splattered mess with this simple, fun program. Turn your iPhone screen into beautiful paint-splattered mess with this simple, fun program. While there is no iPad version, it still works fine on on either sized screen. Builds art, creativity, logic (spatial relations). Brian Smith. $1.99. Ages 3-up.

Early Elementary

5 to 9 Years

Search engines with filtering.

Social games like Pokémon.

A Wii, PS3 or Kinect, for social play.

A steady supply of fresh apps.

Technology to support emerging passions.

Upper Elementary

8 to 12 years

Programming experiences, like Scratch.

Cameras & video editing

Free, supervised access to a reliable laptop with a working browser, exposure to both

Mac and Windows.

High doses of love and supervision.

Art Academy

Transforms your Nintendo DS into a sketch pad, complete paints and pencils. Step-by-step tutorials which introduce ideas like sketching, shading and perspective. If using on a Nintendo DSi you can use the built-in cameras to take pictures of the things you want to sketch. Builds drawing, painting. Nintendo of America. $20. Ages 8-up.


Ages 13-up

A smart phone w/video camera and if possible, a data plan.

Their own laptop.


Video and photo editing, word processing.

Open all channels of communication, from smoke signals to SMS to


Access to emerging products.

Solar System

Builds science, astronomy, the solar system, planets. Touch Press. $14. Ages 7-up.

What is a screen?

Non Interactive vs.


“The truth seems self-evident; all screens are not created equal.”

The View from Moore’s Law

An Amazing History!

Moore’s Law Meets Literacy — Some Key Events

Source: Children’s Technology Review database -- see complete references at

Accelerated Reader

Speech to text

Voice Recognition

Soliloquy Reader iPad

Microsoft Office




Word Perfect

Bank Street Writer





TVs become HDTVs


Xbox 360

Nintendo Wii



Heuston forms


Living Books

Reader Rabbit

ECHO Speech synthesizer






Decline of


Software iPod Touch iPhone

Nintendo DSi

Tag/Tag Jr




Intel ClassMate



2000 2005 2008 2009 2011

iPad Effect

“Pillars” of the iPad:

1. Multi-touch

2. 10 hour batteries

3. Internet

4. 13,000 apps (an army of programmers)

5. stereo speakers

6. gyro and accelerometer

7. Oleophobic screen

8. $500 and up

“The iPad is the computer we always wanted.”

Ann McCormick, Founder, The Learning Company

Kindle (Amazon)

Nook Kids (

Sony Reader Pocket Edition

Beyond the Tablet



FLIPS The Bubonic Builders, Electronic Arts

Tag Reading System

InnoPad from V.Tech (coming this fall)

Leapster Explorer

(coming this fall)

Google’s Android

Moterola XOOM (top)

Samsung Galaxy Tab (right)

Microsoft Kinect

Nobody will uninvent the iPad


“Taxonomy of Touch”

See  also:  Yahoo’s  Nate  Koechley’s  “Taxonomy  of  Touch”  talk  on  slideshare h$p://­‐of-­‐touch

51 iPad Baby Mashup

Symptoms of lower quality interactive media



Talks too much


Draw a line to connect each product to its rating

My Baby Einstein App


Dinosaur Train Eggspress

PBS Kids

Wheels on the Bus

Duck Duck Moose

Draw a line to connect each product to its rating

My Baby Einstein App

Disney, $3.99

Dinosaur Train Eggspress

PBS Kids, $2.99

Wheels on the Bus

Duck Duck Moose, $99

1. Buggy

The lesson for publishers? 

Don’t release your cake before it is baked.

Reality test with people other than relatives.

Once your app is live, nip errors in the bud.

2. Laggy

Charley Harper's Peekaboo Forest

Night & Day Studios. $1.99

AKA Unresponsiveness

Lesson for publishers?

Keep it “crisp.” If you put something on the screen that looks interesting, a child is going to want to touch it.

Pets are responsive

Lesson for publishers?

Increased feelings of control increases engagement.

The HOME button has made children “app browsers.”

A child’s best friend, an app developers worst nightmare.


3. Talks too much


Buckleitner,  W.  (2006).  Exploring  the  RelaQonship  Between  SoRware  Interface  InteracQon  Style  and  

Child  Engagement.  Early  EducaQon  &  Development,  Fall  2006.

Search  on  “buckleitner  dissertaQon”









Three times more tasks attempted



HR Tasks LR Tasks


Twice the correct answers











HICHILD Correct HICOMP Correct


4. Evil

“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theologian

What is “Evil” in children’s IM?

1. Selling faster development, sans valid research.

2. Mixing commercial and educational agendas.

3. Turning young children into “page view mules.”

4. Teasing with freemiums or velvet ropes.

5. Holding artwork, pets or coins hostage, until parents pay the ransom.

6. Taking advantage of a child for pure financial gai n.


Exploiting children to make a funny video for


“At Pocket Gems, We’re Serious

About Fun”

Pocket Gems develops free-to-play mobile games that are ridiculously fun. We were founded in

2009 by Daniel Terry and Harlan Crystal

, engineers and gaming industry outsiders, who wanted to bring the excitement of social gaming to the mobile platform.

We have two missions:

Build the world’s best mobile engineering team – Mobile is the platform of the next decade and gaming will feature some of the most compute- and memory-intensive applications. We want to be the place to work for engineers who are as excited about pushing the limits of mobile hardware as we are. Think that sounds fun? So do we. Check out our jobs page if you’d like to work with us.

Become a global leader in the mobile entertainment industry – Over the past 20 years, entertainment has evolved. What once existed only on the TV screen or computer monitor now fits in the palm of your hand. This platform enables experiences never before possible and represents the next wave of innovation in entertainment. Using a combination of creativity and analytics, we want to expand that frontier by delivering the most engaging mobile experiences available.

With recent funding by Sequoia Capital, we have the resources to be able to pursue these goals and build upon our successful track record.

Book or Catalog?

A Code of Ethics for the Publishers of Interactive Media for Children (

• I won’t sell development , e.g., “smarter, brainy kids,” without references.

• I won’t hold a child’s work hostage , as an incentive to renew a subscription or purchase an additional product.

• I’ll understand the difference between informing and selling , especially when embedding brand names or when dealing with the public school system.

• My product or service will treat every child the way I’d treat my own.

Evaluation Instrument for eBooks

Children’s  Interac0ve  Media  Evalua0on  Instrument,    Adapted  for  Ebooks

KEY:   A  =  Always,  equals  1  point.  SE  =  some  extent  =  .5,  N  =  never,  or  0  points.  NA means  “not  applicable”  

I.  EASE  OF  USE  (Can  a  child  pick  it  up  and  make  it  work?  

Does  it  enhance  feelings  of  control?)

A    SE      N    NA

1__    __    __  __  The  experience  starts  quickly  with  a   minimal  introducQon  that  can  be  skipped.  

2__    __    __  __  There  is  an  obvious  path  to  the  first   page.  

3__    __    __  __  The  experience  feels  crisp  and   responsive,  enhancing  a  child’s  feelings  of  control.  

4__    __    __  __  Pages  are  easy  to  turn  or  flip,  forward  or   backward.

5__    __    __  __  Page  turn  icons  are  easy  to  spot.

6__    __    __  __  A  “return  to  main  menu”  icon  is  easy  to   spot.

7__    __    __  __  It  is  easy  to  jump  to  another  page,   anywhere  in  the  ebook.  

8__    __    __  __  If  there  is  a  “read  to  me” mode,  it  is  easy   to  stop  and  get  back  to  the  main  menu  to  turn  it  off  

(you  don’t  feel  trapped).

9__    __    __  __  It  is  easy  to  adjust  the  sound.

II.  EDUCATIONAL  VALUE  (What  does  the  child  walk   away  from  the  experience  with,  that  he/she  didn’t  have   when  he/she  came  to  the  experience?)

1__    __    __  __  Embedded  reinforcements  are  used,  to   support  the  story  or  the  learning.  

2__    __    __  __  The  challenge  level  can  be  adjusted.

4__    __    __  __  Games  and  animaQons  support  the  story.

5__    __    __  __  Language  enrichment  techniques  are   used.    

6__    __    __  __  If  the  Qtle  is  a  reference,  there  is  an   index  and  the  ability  to  search  by  keyword.

7__    __    __  __  A  child  can  record  their  own  narraQon.

8__    __    __  __  Labeling  is  clear  and  directly  linked  to  the   finger  touch.

9__    __    __  __  There  are  ways  for  a  child  to  represent   their  experience,  e.g.,  through  creaQve  expression.  

IV.  ENTERTAINMENT  VALUE  (How  “fun”  is  the   experience?)

1__    __    __  __  Hot  spots  provide  surprises.

2__    __    __  __  Children  will  want  to  return  to  the   experience.


3__    __    __  __  There’s  enough  content  to  keep  a  child   interested.

4__    __    __  __  There’s  enough  challenge.

V.  FEATURES  (Consider  the  current  “state  of  the  art” in   children’s  ebook  design)

1__    __    __  __  Fonts  are  easy  to  read.

2__    __    __  __  Text  is  narrated,  and  if  possible,  sounded   out.

3__    __    __  __  Bookmarking  is  used,  so  a  child  can  come   back  the  same  point  where  he/she  leR  off.

4__    __    __  __  It  is  possible  to  save  your  work.

5__    __    __  __  Language  translaQon  features  are   available.  

6__    __    __  __  Sounds,  such  as  page  flips,  can  be  turned   on  or  off.  

7__    __    __  __  It  is  easy  to  flip  a  page  forward  and   backward.

8__    __    __  __  You  know  how  “thick”  the  “book”  is.  

There  is  some  indicaQon  of  how  many  pages  are  in  the   book,  or  how  long  the  story  is.  

9__    __    __  __    Music  can  be  easily  toggled  on/off,  and   doesn’t  invade  a  child’s  imaginaQon.

10__    __    __  __  In-­‐app  sales,  if  used,  can  be  locked   away  from  a  young  child.  

11__    __    __  __  External  links  are  limited  to  the  “about   us”  menu.  

12__    __    __  __  Credits  idenQfy  the  publisher,  author,   narrator  and  producing  studio,  along  with  a  physical   address  and  valid  contact  informaQon.

IV.  VALUE  (Rate  the  ebooks  value,  comparing   compeQQve  products)    

1  =  Low                            10  =  High

__  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___ 

1          2          3        4          5        6          7          8          9      10

Buckleitner,  W.,  (2011).  Children’s  InteracQve  Media  

EvaluaQon  Instrument,  Adapted  for  Ebooks.  Children’s  

Technology  Review,  January  2011,  Vol  19,  Issue  130.


Copyright  2011,  Children’s  Technology  Review.

To help you remember

Elements of Quality

Easy  t o  use

Makes  you  feel  powerful  quickly  -­‐-­‐  starts  quickly,  responsive,  reversible,  

Minimum  User  Competency  (MUC)  is  below  child’s  developmental  level,   can  jump  around  between  pages,  over  the  shoulder  help,  minimal  or  no   instrucQons


You  walk  away  with   something  valuable;  a   skill  or  competence  you   didn’t  have  when  you   came  to  the  experience.  








Challenging,  novel,  full  of   discoveries,  social


Preferences  let  you  customize.  If  it  is  free,   you  can  lower  your  expectaQons.  


What  does  it  do  vs.  how  much  does  it  cost?


“False Choice”

A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy , the eitheror fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options . (per wikipedia)

Technology is bad, so if you use it with children you’re also bad.

So if you don’t use technology with young children, you’re good.

Education is full of false dichotomies.

Whole language vs. phonics

Constructivism vs. behaviorism

The reality?

You can find both dust and magic, and there are many shades of gray.

A great place to start….

This is not a “mandate.”

Nowhere does it say you


to use technology.

Can we agree?

1. Technology is here to stay.

2. You can raise a happy, healthy child sans technology.

3. Technology has strengths and weaknesses that we need to understand.

4. We tap the power, maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.


Use it to further your goals, and help you with the very hard task of working with young children.

Join the NAEYC technology interest forum.

Read the position statement:



Meet the “four ‘B’s” at NAEYC!

Assignment: Rate 10 versions of the 3 Little Pigs

Sharpen your your ability to assess quality

1. Find an iPad

2. Search “Three Little Pigs” in the iTunes Store

3. Download 10 versions

4. Rate them from “don’t like” to “like”

Let’s Review

What is the false choice?

How is a child like a tree?

Too much technology can ______ the roots.

What are some real fears about technology?

Name four ways to reduce the quality of an interactive experience

What five factors do you use to rate children’s IM?

What makes a children’s technology product “evil?”


Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF