Digital media for preschoolers: Recommendations & resources (Part 1)

By Children’s Librarian Eileen Saam

As families wrap up their holiday shopping, parents and caregivers of preschool-aged children may be thinking about purchasing a tablet for their child. Some may have recently purchased a tablet and are now wondering which apps they should download. Some may also be wondering how much screen time is appropriate for their young child.

These are all great questions to ask! Below, I will share research that answers some of these questions and digital resources available at the library for young children.

What do the experts recommend?

As digital consumers in a media-rich world, we need to continually evaluate how we consume digital content. Parents and caregivers must be mindful of how they engage in digital content with their children.

Young children are sponges soaking up information around them each day. They learn through many different kinds of experiences and interactions. Babies up to age three learn best through hands-on experiences and face-to-face interactions, which incorporate meaningful play and language.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • That parents and caregivers of children ages 2 to 5 play and interact with their children when engaging in digital media. This helps children make connections to the world around them and enhance their learning.
  • That families limit screen time to one hour a day for children ages 2 to 5.
  • Less than an hour of screen time and only when an adult is available to co-view, talk, and interact with them for children under 2.

Read more about the AAP’s recommendations for digital media usage here »

Where does screen time fit into young children’s learning experiences?

This article from the Educational Development Center highlights key findings for children in the 3-5 age group. This new research shows that tech can help young children make sense of their world, especially when screen time is facilitated and guided by parents or caregivers.

The research discussed in this article, and much of the research into digital media over the last several years, highlights the importance of continually exploring digital resources in order to expand children’s learning opportunities. At the library, we try to share this information with our patrons so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families.

So, what digital content does the library offer for families with young children?

There’s so much digital content to explore at the Oak Park Public Library!

Playaway Launchpads

Designed for kids aged preschool through grade 5, Playaway Launchpad are tablets that come pre-loaded with high-quality interactive learning apps, games, storybooks, and videos. Topics range from math to music and STEM to language and literature. Launchpads have a simple, intuitive interface. With no download time or need for WiFi, kids are not bombarded with distracting ads or annoying pop-up videos.

Launchpads are available to use at all Oak Park library locations for a two-hour checkout period for all cardholders. Oak Park cardholders can check out a launchpad for a three-week period to use anywhere!

Virtual & digital resources for early learners

  • Virtual Learning and Fun videos are hosted by some of your favorite librarians and storytime friends. Topics range from fingerplays to interactive field trip adventures and puppet play to book talks. They are great because they offer a host of useful literacy tips, social and emotional support tips, and fun, interactive learning experiences for young children and their parents to engage in together.
  • Register for our live virtual storytimes and connect with librarians via Zoom every week! While in-person storytimes are unavailable, young children and their caregivers can join their favorite Oak Park librarians virtually to read stories, sing songs, and engage in interactive playful experiences together! 
  • Subscribe to get Early Bird Readers weekly text tips and videos! Early Bird Readers is a digital early learning program for parents, caregivers, and teachers. Based on the Very Ready Reading Program, which is used in all library storytimes, these texts offer literacy support to parents and caregivers.

Kids & family digital library

  • The Kids & Family Digital Library offers a wealth of quality ebooks, audiobooks, and movies that family members can explore together using Hoopla, Libby, and Kanopy Kids and their Oak Park library card. You’ll be amazed at the quality and number of choices that keep growing!
  • Log in to World Book Early Learning! This great site offers narrated stories, games, videos, and reading practice for preschoolers and children in the elementary grades. Developed with experts on early childhood education, World Book Early Learning offers valuable educational resources for caregivers to engage in with their children.

These are all valuable digital resources available through the library and curated for kids and families. In my next post, I will highlight some recommended educational apps and programs.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these resources together so that you can help your preschooler make sense of the world around them!

Want to explore more digital media resources for preschoolers? Read part 2 »

Eileen

About Eileen

Eileen Saam is a children’s digital learning librarian who loves discovering new things, learning from others, and sharing with children the joy and wonder of books. One of her favorite things to do at the library is to help children, families, and teachers find books and digital resources that delight and inspire them.

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