Letter to NAEYC regarding the proposed new position paper on children and technology

To:  the Governing Board of NAEYC and interested members of NAEYC and its Affiliates

NAEYC is the nation’s premier professional organization for early childhood educators. The Association’s statement on Technology in Early Childhood Programs must reflect the best practices that are generally accepted and promoted by the majority of its members, the majority of its leadership, the majority of its college instructors and supported by experts.
The public health community’s recommendations of no screen time for children under two and limited screen time for older children is clear.  The highly regarded American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, clearly does not recommend screen time for children under 2 years of age.  NAEYC, as the largest professional association of early education professionals and advocates has a responsibility to lead the way, not to offer disappointing apologies excusing the use of technology such as, “the genie is out of the bottle.”  Rightfully so, NAEYC’s direction to the professional community has a profound effect on young children’s media use both in and out of classrooms.
Unfortunately the current draft of a new position paper on the use of technology in early education programs undermines national efforts to address childhood obesity and other wellness problems.  Its suggestion that “digital citizenship is essential in the 21st century” is arguable even for adults and is misguided at best when it is applied to children.  For years, NAEYC has held a leadership position on this issue.  Today, as the tide has finally turned and growing numbers of health and education experts decry America’s obsession with technology, NAEYC proposes a regressive position on this critical matter, betraying the hard work of its members that have fought to stem the rush towards technology and its targeting of young children.
There is no evidence in the research that having screen technology in an early childhood setting provides any comparative advantage to young children.  Highly regarded early education programs including Cal Tech’s Childrens Center do not promote the use of technology in their classrooms.  The current draft fails completely to suggest, encourage or advocate for alternatives to technology as appropriate options.  It lacks the necessary and stern cautionary language that is called for on this particular issue.  In this way, the current draft appears to promote and mandate the use of technology in the early education classroom.

We are concerned that your statement actively promotes children spending time with screens in preschools and will take time away from activities with proven benefits — like engaging in creative play or interacting with adults. We believe that the NAEYC draft is irresponsible and advocates for the use of screen technologies without addressing the commercialism that is so rampant in screen media for children. We truly feel that NAEYC has lost its vision and has abdicated its leadership position on this issue.

As a Board of ECE professionals and advocates, we do not feel supported in our role as mentors of Early Childhood Education students and beginning teachers by an organization that now appears to be pandering to the media and corporations.  For these reasons, and after discussing our concerns in both regular BCAEYC Board Meetings and through regular Board e-mail communications, we have decided to take further action.  Therefore, a quorum of the Board of Beach Cities Association for the Education of Young Children, at our regularly scheduled Board meeting on June 14, 2011, has unanimously voted to oppose NAEYC’s current draft position on the Use of Technology in Early Childhood Programs.

We will actively oppose any position paper that promotes the use of technology among children under two years of age.

Sincerely,

Stacey Smith, MA, president of BCAEYC

Michelle Moen, vice president of programs, BCAEYC

Linh Terry, treasurer, BCAEYC

Carol Minami, campus coordinator, BCAEYC

Angela Beck, education awards, BCAEYC

Catherine Scott, family child care chair, BCAEYC

Gregory Uba, public policy chair, BCAEYC

cc:

CAEYC Executive Director, Sandra Giarde

CAEYC president Kelly Lake

CAEYC past-president, Marilyn McGrath

CAEYC Public Policy Committee Chair, Joyce Stone

Note:

This letter is intended for distribution to CAEYC membership

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2 thoughts on “Letter to NAEYC regarding the proposed new position paper on children and technology

  1. mrskto says:

    I think that promoting technology among children two and older is a great idea. Technology is leading the way in this society. Why not start early?

    • gregoryuba says:

      My AEYC Affiliate struggled with the technology piece. At an Affiliate Board Meeting/Membership Meeting we watched an important film, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. It’s available through IMF the Independent Media Foundation.
      We didn’t oppose the original NAEYC Position Paper which addressed technology for children OVER 2 years of age. However, we did oppose the new draft, which included children UNDER two.
      I look forward to your thoughts should you watch the Consuming Kids video.

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