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Facing Arizona: My specific area of concern is technology in early childhood development

(KTAR News Photo/Sure Shot Photography)

Editor’s note: Facing Arizona is a series that will appear on KTAR.com and social media  — follow KTAR News on Instagram and Facebook for updates — highlighting unique and everyday people across our state and give you a glimpse into their lives.

My name is Marissa Calderon, I am an early childhood consultant.

Early childhood consists of birth through eight years of age. In terms of education, birth through third grade.

My specific area of concern is the use, or misuse, of technology and digital media in early childhood development.

I want to be an ally to parents and support them in the use of technology with their children. We do not want to alienate them. There is a guide online, as well as a position statement, that I always refer to when asked about my position on the appropriate use of technology. That statement is the NAEYC and the Fred Rogers statement that was released in 2012 and was revised in September of 2017. It gives educators and consultants in the field of early childhood development a template on how to speak with parents concerning the use of technology with their children.

What we have seen, with the most recent research data, is an impact on attention span and their cognitive development, especially in the ages of zero through five. This is a time when a child’s brain is experiencing a critical amount of growth and development. It has been proven that interaction with those screen time devices has been a detriment in the stimulation of such development, more so when that interaction is passive as opposed to active interaction. There is a staunch difference in handing a child a device and leaving or helping your child interact with educational apps on that same device.

Speaking to your child about what they are seeing on the screen and guiding them through basic educational lessons that are contained in certain apps is a much more active, and beneficial use of screened devices. Without that active participation, that device is nothing more than another television. I do not want parents to think I am trying to tell them how they should parent, that is an individual choice. I do, however, want to ensure that I am providing the most current and up-to-date information for them, as it pertains to their child’s educational development. This will allow parents to, at minimum, make an informed decision when it comes to the use of technology, digital media, and screen devices with their children during those critical years of cognitive growth and development.

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