Erikson symposium fosters discussions about technology and early childhood

National experts lead the conversation on how to empower adults to be ‘media mentors’ to children

Kicking off the 2017 National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) conference in Chicago, Erikson Institute’s Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center hosted a group of globally-recognized thought leaders and early childhood professionals who gathered to explore why media literacy matters in the early years.

The daylong symposium, hosted in partnership between Erikson and NAMLE, featured a series of discussions, presentations, and group workshops that gave attendees an opportunity to hear ideas, share experiences, and collaborate on a series of actionable steps that can help adults improve their own media literacy skills and become “media mentors” — informed adults who are prepared to help children navigate the digital age.

“By bringing together a diverse range of voices for an event such as this, Erikson is leading the conversation around the intersecting areas of technology, child development, and early learning,” said Chip Donohue, PhD, director of the TEC Center.

One of the strategies driving Erikson forward is our work in technology in early childhood, and our leadership in this area is amplified through events like the recent symposium that advance the national discussion. In coming weeks, Erikson’s TEC Center will produce a report with actionable steps gleaned from the input of the symposium’s attendees that aim to help engage and empower educators and parents to improve media literacy for young children.

Mari Copeny and David Kleeman

Participants and attendees included prominent voices on media literacy and early childhood as well as professionals working directly with children and families in the community, including:

  • Early childhood educators
  • Museum leaders/educators
  • Teacher educators
  • Community and after-school organization leaders
  • Library leaders and individual librarians from across the United States
  • Researchers from the United States, Australia, Prague, Estonia, and Latin America
  • Representatives of U.S. and international home visiting programs
  • Early Intervention providers
  • Children’s media and app developers
  • Policy makers

See a full list of panelists and participants

Dr. Donohue, an internationally recognized expert in technology and the early years, spoke, as well, challenging the professionals in the room to consider how technology is used to facilitate and deepen learning rather than prioritizing the use of new technologies for their own sake.

“The symposium was truly an inspiring day of discussion and discovery on media mentoring,” said Michael Levine, PhD, founding executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. “It really was an honor to be a part of what will be cited as a landmark conference when we look back. I can’t wait to help with advancing action follow-up steps.”

The symposium also featured a conversation between David Kleeman, senior vice president of Global Trends at Dubit, and Mari Copeny, a 10-year-old resident of Flint, Michigan, who has become well-known for using Twitter to bring attention to her city’s water crisis.

“When is the best time to talk to kids about what’s happening in the media?” Kleeman asked.

“All the time,” Mari replied.