Dr Radesky, who participated in research projects with Dr Munzer, spoke about the importance of helping children master reading that goes beyond specific memorized details – words, characters or events – so that a child is “able to integrate the knowledge acquired through history with the experience of life.” And again, she said, that’s not what’s emphasized in the digital design. “The things that get you thinking, slow down and deal with things in depth, don’t sell, don’t get the most clicks,” she says.
Parents can help when their children are young, Dr Radesky said, by discussing the story and asking the questions that help children make those connections.
For school-age children
“When kids enter digital spaces, they have access to an endless number of platforms and websites besides the e-books you are supposed to read,” said Dr Radesky. “We’ve all been out there helping our kids through distance learning and seeing them not being able to resist opening this less demanding tab.”
“Throughout the fall, I have consistently helped families get their child out of YouTube,” said Dr. Radesky. “They’re bored, it’s easy to open a browser window,” as adults know all too well. “I am concerned that during distance learning, children have learned to orient themselves towards devices with this very low partial attention.”
Professor Baron said that in an ideal world, children would learn “to read contiguous text for fun, to stop, to think”.
In elementary school, she said, there is an opportunity to start a conversation about the benefits of different media: “It’s okay for print, goes for a digital screen, goes for audio, goes for video, they all have their uses – we need to make kids aware that not all media are best suited for all purposes. Children can experiment with digital and print reading, and can be encouraged to talk about what they saw and liked.
Dr. Radesky spoke about helping children develop what she called “metacognition,” in which they ask themselves questions such as “how does my brain feel, what has it got about my ability attention? ” From the age of 8 to 10, she says, children develop the skills to understand how they stay on task and how distracted they are. “Children recognize when the classroom is too busy; we want them to recognize when you walk into a very busy digital space, ”she said.