Monday, December 21, 2015

Screen Time vs. Co-engagement

It's great to see the emergence of late of a number of resources and messages encouraging parents to consider how technology can be used contextually for interaction and language development in children. A plus for us- these messages also apply to using apps in therapy and teaching.

Historically, news stories about screen time, while important, lack some nuance about how technology can be used for co-engagement, opting instead for the pure "limit it" message. While even I am an advocate for limits, of course, and use technology carefully and thoughtfully in my own practice, a more layered message is appropriate here. Technology brings visual support that is absent when language is simply "in the air," and many children benefit from visuals and increased context in order to scaffold their language. See this reflected in the American Academy of Pediatrics recent "Beyond Turn it Off" article, in which the potential for adult and child participation with media to facilitate social interactions and learning is explored.

I'd encourage all SLPs and other readers to take a look at the excellent free e-book from the Joyce Ganz Cooley Center, Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Kids (available through the iBooks app). This is an amazing resource from folks involved with the Sesame Workshop, most famously the creators of Sesame Street, and contains specific strategies for interaction within different genres of apps such as games, e-books, and creation tools, all in a fun comic format that illuminates the potential adult-child interactions. SLPs can read into these comics and see the potential for techniques such as sentence recasts and parallel talk. The book also provides resources for finding apps within the genres listed. Also check out the Cooley Center website and gems such as their publications around app usage which go into more research and depth on these issues.

Thanks to mobile learning guru Tony Vincent for pointing me in the direction of this book.

Happy Holidays and New Year!

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