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Considerations for Implementing EdTech Policies

By: Morgan Russo & Jenna Herdzina

Districts, schools, and centers often look to policy statements in order to inform their practice and give recommendations to their families. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Fred Rogers Center, and the Department of Education are just a few of the organizations whose research and subsequent statements are highly valued and trusted. When it comes to policy around technology and digital media for children, the field is quite new, relatively speaking. There is still much unknown about effects and long term implications for some of the newest developing technologies. As we continue to research this evolving field, it’s important to keep in mind the following disclaimers when it comes to implementing policy around children and technology.

  1. These policy statements are dynamic. No single policy statement or set of recommendations is final. It is contextualized based on the current research available and the current needs or interest of the public. An important example being that the AAP changed their “screen time” recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to find the most up-to-date policy recommendations and look at it from the lens of the time it was written.
  2. What we know about how children use media and the subsequent impact of using media, is becoming more and more nuanced. Screens are not evil. Children use screens to attend class, connect with grandparents, watch their favorite educational program, relax with music or a podcast, or express themselves with a drawing app. We know that children can and do learn from high quality, educational digital media. We must focus on how that media can be used in order to maximize benefits and minimize risks.
  3. “It depends!” When looking for answers when it comes to using technology with children, people are often looking for sweeping statements that reassure us for or against using a certain technology tool or strategy. While this would make everyone’s lives easier, unfortunately it is not that simple. More often than not, when asked about whether technology should or shouldn’t be used, the answer is that “it depends”; It depends on the content itself, the child, and the way in which the technology is used (context). These considerations are referred to as the 3 C’s (Guernsey, 2012).
  4. Many policy statements have moved away from the language of “screen time”. Screens are all around us and are used for vastly different purposes. It is outdated to accept that all of the activities we do on or with a screen can be lumped into the term “screen time”. Digital media policy should reflect reality as well as best practices. Previously, screen time overlooked the agency of the child and did not address children’s developing self-regulation and responsible decision making.
  5. You know the child best. Sometimes, the digital devices are not the best tools to support development and academics and that’s okay. If you’re observing your child or student having a hard time transitioning away from a certain game or app, consider those 3 C’s (content, child, and context). Are there things in the game or app that is making it difficult for the child to transition from (Content)? Does the child particularly have a difficult time with transitions overall (Child)? Is the transition extra difficult because of other factors such as upcoming mealtime (Context)? You know the child best- so consider all the factors at play. You may discover that the game or app may not be the best for that child in that particular context.

Suggested Citation: Russo, M., & Herdzina, J. (2021, March). Considerations for implementing edtech policies. Erikson Institute’s Technology in Early Childhood Center.

Reference: Guernsey, L. (2012). Screen time: How electronic media-from baby videos to education software-affects your young child. Basic Books.


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