Digital Media Can Boost Literacy

ThinkstockPhotos-468178463Technology and the amount of information it provides us is deepening the divide between the haves and the have-nots in terms of education. As we become more dependent on digital tools to live our lives and navigate the world, parents and teachers also find themselves at a crossroads, sometimes banning seemingly mind-numbing tech like TV and video games while embracing the education trend of technology in the classroom. “We argue for a modern, “third way” approach to technology that gives young children of all backgrounds more opportunities to learn to read and succeed in the 21st century. We need to get past the tired nagging of “no screen time” and the overheated enthusiasm over apps as the holy grail of early education. Instead, let’s take a more mindful approach and combine the power of parents, educators and high-quality media (print and digital) to make literacy opportunities available to all kids and families, regardless of income,” Lisa Guernsey, co-author of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens and director of the Early Education Initiative and the Learning Technologies Project at New America, explained to NPR.

She continued, “Literacy is an expansive word—getting more expansive with every passing year. Someone who is not steeped in early literacy research might think that literacy means reading print. But even the traditional definition of literacy has always meant more than that: It means reading, writing, listening and speaking. Children need help in becoming skillful at all four of those skills and they can use media tools of all kinds to do so. In addition, as children grow up in a world of information overload and constant messaging, they will also need to learn media literacy and critical literacy. Those two concepts are still relatively new in elementary education, but if you think about it, those ideas go hand in hand with teaching a child about what it means to be a writer or media creator and why it is important to look closely and ask questions about what a writer is trying to say.”

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