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Support Young Children in Developing Healthy Digital Media Habits

Young children are impacted by the digital media in which they engage. Media representations of people and characters impact a child’s attitudes toward social categories such as race-ethnicity, differing abilities, gender expression, among many other social categories (Armstrong, 2021; Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013; Bond, 2016; Dill-Shackleford, et al., 2017; Rogers, Mastro, Robb, & Peebles, 2021; Scharrer, 2013; Signorielli, 2011).

Educators can facilitate high quality experiences with digital media and help support young children in developing healthy habits around digital media. Educators can serve as an integral role in children critically inquiring about the creation of media, evaluating real information and misinformation, and reconceptualizing media as tools useful for many different tasks. Such skills are necessary in a world filled with digital media, and such skills are required for children to adequately learn in environments which rely heavily on digital media.

Here are a few resources for teachers who want to learn more about young children and digital media use:

  1. Technology in Early Childhood webpage articles are a great place to start to learn about children and digital media use in classrooms and at home.
  2. Media Literacy in Early Childhood Report (Herdzina & Lauricella, 2020) is a report focused on media literacy in early childhood. This report is parent- and educator-friendly with a framework, child development information, as well as tips and activities to implement.
  3. Common Sense Education has a free K-12 digital citizenship curriculum, edtech ratings and reviews, and family engagement resources among many other resources for educators.
  4. PBSLearningMedia has free, standards-aligned videos, lesson plans, and even a Technology Literacy resource section!
  5. NAEYC has a resource section dedicated to technology and media which includes their position statement, articles with concrete tips on developmentally appropriate practice, and published books if you want to learn more.

Join us on July 18th for our “Tech Camp: Teachers Only” summer sessions that explore technology in early childhood education. Learn how to become a media mentor for media literacy and the best ways to integrate technology into the classroom.

Suggested citation: Herdzina, J. & Lauricella, & A. R. (May 13, 2022). Digital media in early childhood resources for educators. Erikson Institute.


Anderson, D. R., & Pempek, T. A. (2005). Television and very young children. American behavioral scientist, 48(5), 505-522.Armstrong, A. L. (2021). The representation of social groups in U.S. educational materials and why it matters: A research overview. New America., R. (2010). Transfer of learning between 2D and 3D sources during infancy: informing theory and practice. Developmental Review, 30, 128e154.

Behm-Morawitz, E., & Ortiz, M. (2013). Race, ethnicity, and the media. In K. E. Dill (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of media psychology (pp. 252–266). Oxford University Press.

Bond, B. J. (2016). Fairy godmothers > robots: The Influence of televised gender stereotypes and counter- stereotypes on girls’ perceptions of STEM. Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, 36(2), 91-97.

Dill-Shackleford, K. E., Ramasubramanian, S., Behm-Morawitz, E., Scharrer, E., Burgess, M. C. R., & Lemish, D. (2017). Social group stories in the media and child development. Pediatrics, 140(Supplement 2), S157 LP-S161.

Fisch, S., Truglio, R. T., & Cole, C. F. (1999). The impact of Sesame Street on preschool children: A review and synthesis of 30 years’ research. Media Psychology, 1(2), 165-190.

Guernsey, L. (2019). A mission for media mentors. In C. Donohue (Ed.) Exploring Key Issues in Early Childhood and Technology: Evolving Perspectives and Innovative Approaches (pp. 97-102). Routledge.

Kirkorian, H. L., Anderson, D. R., & Keen, R. (2012). Age differences in online processing of video: An eye movement study. Child Development, 83, 497–507. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01719.x.

Lovato, S. B., & Waxman, S. R. (2016). Young children learning from touch screens: Taking a wider view. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, Article 1078.

Rideout, V. (2017). The Common Sense census: Media use by kids age zero to eight. Common Sense Media.

Rideout, V., & Robb, M. B. (2020). The Common Sense census: Media use by kids age zero to eight, 2020. Common Sense Media.

Rogers, O., Mastro, D., Robb, M. B., & Peebles, A. (2021). The Inclusion Imperative: Why Media Representation Matters for Kids’ Ethnic-Racial Development. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense.

Scharrer E.L. (2013). Representations of gender in the media. In: Dill KE, ed. Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology. Oxford University Press, 267–284

Signorielli, N. (2011). Television’s gender-role images and contribution to stereotyping: Past, present, and future. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (2nd ed., pp. 321339). Sage.

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