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A Response to NAEYC’s “Technology Usage in the Classroom” FINAL position statement

Comments to the final edition of NAEYC’s Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 position statement:



I realize that this late in the game it becomes a matter of opinion and inevitably, semantics,  (tomurphy said “beating the dead horse”) but if I encourage you to make your voice heard, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t do the same.  So even when I feel I am nothing but a whisper among the shouting, at the end of the day I know I took the time to express my thoughts and opinions.   And even if it doesn’t appear to have “done anything,” the reality is that I chose to be a participant in the process. And that is still “something.”


For the record:

  • I get the whole “passive use” argument
  • I get the whole “interactive” business
  • I get that the position statement is intended to provide guidance for DAP use of various interactive media with children
  • I get that the position statement is not encouraging us to plop kids in front of screens all day
  • I appreciate the addition of very clear definitions (absent in the first draft) of “interactive” and “non-interactive” media
  • And, barring a few noteworthy exceptions, I would adopt this position statement for my own use


Here are said exceptions:

  • I am concerned that NAEYC still assumes that the majority of our work force (this includes teachers and administrators) actually knows the difference between DAP and non-DAP.  And to this point, the comments I made in my original response to the first draft have not changed:


I appreciate that in the new position statement NAEYC calls on teachers to have a solid understanding of child development and DAP which would allow them to “make good choices” when it comes to technology use, but the reality is that too many states allow 18 year olds with only a high school diploma to be responsible for the daily care and development of our children; as sad as it is to admit, NAEYC cannot assume that all early childhood educators ARE grounded in solid theories of child development or DAP.


This position statement relies heavily on the importance of the role of the teacher in choosing DAP tech materials when the reality is that many materials are purchased by someone else and teachers are simply told to use them.  We cannot assume that ece teachers will “know better” because the embarrassing reality is that due to inconsistent (often substandard) initial employment qualifications and (lack of) ongoing training requirements, in many instances, they unfortunately don’t.


This position statement appears disconnected from the reality of how technology IS being used in many ece environments.  It often IS being used in such a way that decreases the prevalence of real, hands-on experiences.   Touch screens DO replace crayons and markers; in some places because they are “cleaner” and not as messy.


  • The initial draft pointed out that there is a lack of empirical research that demonstrates positive benefits from the use of technology.  Editing this statement out of the final document doesn’t negate the truth of this statement.


  • I think NAEYC was neglectful in not commenting on the physical impact of screen use on children.


  • Again, I realize the position statement is not advocating overuse, or even use for that matter, but the reality is that screens are being overused.  And there comes a time when a screen-free zone  (as advocated by The American Academy of Pediatrics) can serve as a refuge away from our screen-driven culture.  But this can only happen if the childcare center is a screen free zone.  And the reason I maintain and advocate a screen-free ece space is that it provides a much needed balance to the frequent (over)use of and (over)exposure to screens in the rest of their lives.


  • I appreciate that the final draft took a stronger prohibitive stance with the use of technology/media with infants and toddlers, but was disappointed at the loop-hole that remained due to the insertion of the word “interactive” – as if talking to a baby while holding a screen in front of her face somehow qualifies as an “interaction.”


Question #1: Is the tech/media/screen/tool adding to the experience or replacing it?

When I took my niece and nephew on a hike I thought, “Hey!  I think THAT is poison oak!”  I pulled out my smart phone, searched “google images” and sure enough – it was!  We could look at the real thing, compare it to images and BAM!  Now we all know what poison oak looks like!  Adding to the experience – not replacing it. There really is a difference.


Question #2: Is there a “real” way to get the same information across?


I call this “the worksheet” argument.   When someone tells me the reason they use worksheets is to increase fine motor skill development and I can point out 10 other ways to increase that skill that are more DAP and do not require a worksheet and they still on using the worksheet, it tells me we have another issue.


Question #3:  What used to be here?


What used to be in the computer corner?  Did something have to go away to make room for the screens?  If so… what? And why? And what was the thought process that led us to think that that is more appropriate for a preschool classroom than that which had to go away??



Final Thoughts:

First things first:  let us first ensure that 100% of our ece environments are hands-on, play-based, child-centered spaces that are based on developmentally appropriate practice; filled with passionate educators who are facilitating an exhaustive exploration of all that we can, right here and right now touch, taste, smell, hear, see, take part, turn over, look under, put back together, break, make, create, stack, talk about, notice, wonder about, discover, pour, push, pull, stretch, …


And then, once we have collectively accomplished that, THEN and only THEN do I see a reason to be introducing abstract, flat, 2-dimensional objects into a child’s world, because by that point she’ll be about 10 and will have had such a profound, sensory rich “real” childhood, that she herself will be able to “get” that the screen is nothing more than a tool to enhance her experience.  It is not the experience itself.


For schools and programs that are already at this point and are consistent and successful in providing real, meaningful, hands-on, sensory experiences, all day long for the children in their care, then I say, “Bravo NAEYC!” for providing guidance on ways to incorporate technology and inter-active media to add to said experiences.


For those who have not, I simply want to point out that there are many, many, many things that need to happen before we start purchasing smart boards and iPads.




© June 2012, Lisa Murphy, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

If you’d like to keep the conversation going, please contact me at (800)477-7977 or via email at LTAC@ooeygooey.com.

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