Last Saturday, I was able to learn from Dr Chip Donohue at a seminar organised by NAECCEM (National Association of Early Childhood Care and Education of Malaysia) about the digital age and the early years.
We are now well into the screen-age and quite possibly, we have seen our fair share of news stories warning about the potential harm that “screens” can have on the early years, leaving us with the feeling that we should totally keep screens away from the very young. This is perhaps too simplistic a way to deal with the issue.
Instead, why not consider how we can be more intentional in leveraging the opportunities for learning and relating that digital media and devices can offer.
Before saying more about learning, I shall first highlight the element of relating. To quote Fred Rogers, “A love of learning has a lot to do with learning that we are loved.” Personal consumption of digital media has made it all a very isolating experience despite increasingly connected with each other digitally. Indeed, there is always a need for relating, especially for the very young with the significant others in their lives. The form that this takes might be the familiar such as talking over a meal, or something a little new to those of us who are not digital natives. We might need to learn a new “language” and to gain a different kind of “fluency“.
In thinking about learning, Dr Donohue shared these interesting metaphors of seeing Screens as Windows, Mirrors and Magnifying Glass. With digital devices, we can indeed see more of the world, know ourselves better and take a closer look at those things immediately around us.
Dr Donohue also shared the idea of a “balanced digital diet” in which there are the four elements of
- encourages discovery
- promotes creativity
- can be explored together
and says that with this, a little “junk food” is probably ok.
In encouraging all of us to see ourselves as media mentors, there are 5 Cs for our consideration: Content, Context, Child, Connection and Creation.
While considering learning and relating, it noteworthy that there is a need to have a balance of both solitary as well as shared time, as much as passive and active consumption of digital media has its place. To be intentional and thus find an appropriate mix is what is needed.
Hope these are good conversation starters. I would love to hear from you.
Here are my notes from the day.