Early Literacy and Technology

Digital technology has become integral to our daily lives, influencing everything from entertainment and communication to education. When supporting early literacy skills, navigating how technology and digital content can enhance or hinder pre-reading skills can be challenging. Parents are bombarded with mixed messages about the appropriate screen time for young children. Digital content is a valuable tool for early literacy and skills, when used strategically. In this blog post, we’ll explore technology’s role and recommend exceptional resources and apps for children’s literacy development.

Use Digital Technology Together

Digital technology is most effective when it complements and enriches early literacy experiences rather than replacing them. Like all early literacy interactions, children benefit most from engaging with a caring parent. The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Media and Young Minds states that parents engage with digital media alongside their young children. Adult interaction enhances toddlers’ learning, while parents’ involvement in digital content use benefits preschoolers through increased interaction and limited settings.1

For example, interactive e-books offer an excellent opportunity to discover new stories. Parents and children enrich the experience when they read and discuss the material together, similar to traditional picture books. Whether using digital or analog resources, engaging together supports children’s comprehension, critical thinking, and social-emotional development.

Use a Balanced Approach

Although technology is a valuable tool, balancing digital and non-digital literacy experiences is crucial. Unstructured and social (non-digital) play remains the best method for children to acquire skills such as emotional regulation, impulse control, and flexible thinking—skills that pave the way for school readiness.2 Encourage a mix of screen-based and traditional activities, such as reading physical books, engaging in imaginative play and participating in conversations that promote language development.

  1. Media and Young Minds | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org) ↩︎
  2. Media and Young Minds | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org) ↩︎