Lately, there has been a lot of research and popular press about the benefits of limiting screen time for children (and ourselves). A few examples:
- Let’s Move: Reduce screen time and get active tips
- NPR Story: Kids and screen time: What does the research say?
- New York Times articles: Say No Yourself and Toll on Children
So, how do we reconcile our choice of media–mobile technologies–with this digital conundrum? Well, the short answer is we’re not sure, yet. Parents and caregivers, especially of very young children, are concerned about using digital media in front of their kids. They are concerned with the device distracting them from meaningful time interacting together. This question has come up a number of times during our evaluation, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make this a useful tool rather than a digital distraction.
Our content categories for Sciencenter’s Explore More prototype app focus on things adults can do to encourage their children to play with an exhibit component (Try This); a short description and explanation behind the early childhood research that supports that action or the content at the exhibit (What the Research Says); and additional links to online resources so that visitors can learn more on their own time (More Resources). Our hope is that the short suggestions in the Try This section will be helpful prompts on the floor of the museum, and that the other content might be more useful as contextual information for caregivers to use and consume either in preparation of the visit or once home.
How are other project partners or museums dealing with this issue? Do you get pushback from visitors about promoting digital content and screen time?