Building Technology Literacy in Libraries by Starting Early
By Margie Wade
As libraries and information centers work toward bridging the digital divide, the scope of technology literacy begins with multimedia tools for children as young as one year of age. Age appropriate devices provide young children with early and equal access to teach concepts for digital literacy necessary to be successful upon entering Kindergarten. Tools for literacy are simple toys that provide introductions to digital concepts and comply with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children younger than two years of age not be exposed to video media (“Media and children,” n.d.). Designed for use beginning at age two, early learning literacy station computers (AWE) follows the progression of digital device toys to computer technology. Many public libraries provide stations in their Youth Services area.
Though the United States is a global leader, that position is threatened as fewer students pursue expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields (“Science, technology,” n.d.). With the expansion of Youth Services in libraries to provide digital inclusion for preschool and school-aged children, there is alignment with Common Core Benchmarks adopted by school systems to achieve STEM competencies. Adopting mediums that local school districts utilize in their curriculum (computers, laptops and tablets using specifically designed applications to drive learning) allows children and youth in the community to develop literacy as multimedia communicators who are prepared as learners in the twenty-first century.
Since many parents struggle to provide the spectrum of devices required for multimedia digital literacy, public libraries can bridge this gap by providing services to improve technology literacy. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project findings, “81% [of parents] say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries provide their children with information and resources not available at home” (Miller, Zickuhr, Rainie & Purcell, 2013).
Media and children. (n.d.). American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx
Miller, C., Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L. & Purcell, K. (2013, January 1). Parents, children, libraries, and reading. Pew Internet Libraries RSS. Retrieved from http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/05/01/parents-children-libraries-and-reading/
Science, technology, engineering and math: education for global leadership. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/stem