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Early Literacy iPads

Why offer touch screen technology for children?

Studies show that with guidance and in moderation, technology can aid learning and development. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendas that children older than two spend no more than two hours a day with screen technology.)


Children are already using mobile technology; use it to its greatest potential! Studies show that many children already have access to mobile technology. In fact, “nearly two thirds (62%) of 2 to 10 year-olds now have access to either an e-reader or a tablet device.  However, only half (49%) of all children with access to such a device have read or been read to on it.”1


Technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development. Research has demonstrated that, when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and media can enhance children’s cognitive and social abilities. Screen media can introduce children to animals, objects, places, and cultures they might not otherwise experience. Experts conclude that “the active, appropriate use of technology and media can support and extend traditional materials in valuable ways.”2


Not all screens are created equal; interactions with technology should be playful and support creativity and exploration.  We specifically chose iPads as the platform for this service because touch screen technology is interactive and allows children to actively engage with the media, parents, and peers in a dynamic learning experience.


Early access to technology increases digital literacy skills. Young children need opportunities to develop the early “technology-handling” skills associated with digital literacy—like how to navigate, manipulative, and create digital content—that are similar to “print awareness” skills which are critical to reading.3 


Share these apps by reading and playing together with your child. To maximize the learning potential, incorporate the five early literacy practices: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play. You can find specific suggestions for each app on my "Annotated Apps List."


How to Choose Apps:


  • Pay attention to the content. Quality apps should be appropriate for your child’s age, developmental level, needs, and interests.


  • Choose apps that inspire active participation. Effective uses of technology should be hands-on, engaging, and empowering experiences for children.


  • Animation and enhancements should add meaningfully to the storyline instead of distracting from it.


  • Apps should be easy and intuitive for your child to navigate.


  • Avoid in app ads that your child might click on. Sometimes apps contain ads to buy other products, which can be distracting and confusing to children.

Resources for App Selection:


  • Ask a librarian! If you have additional questions or want custom app recommendations based on your child’s age and interests, try asking a librarian. You can email me at



1. "Media and Children” (2014).  American Academy of Pediatrics.

2. Rideout, V. J. (2014). “Learning at home: Families’ educational media use in America.” A report of the Families and Media Project. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

3. NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center. (2012). “Technology and Interative Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children Ages Birth through Age 8: Position Statement.” 


Bolded points at the top of the page were adapted from the NAEYC and Fred Rogers Positioning Statement.


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