Digital dilemma

© 2017- Rochelle News-Leader

NIU College of Education to examine children’s ‘screen time’ at March 23 panel discussion

DeKalb — Do you think your children spend too much time glued to digital devices? Are you worried that they’re more connected with their phones, tablets and TVs than with their families and friends?
You’re not alone.
Children ages 8 and younger engage with their screens an average of six hours each day, according to a recent study.
For some school-age children, that connection could improve academic achievement, especially language skills and literacy. Others, however, might experience losses in those areas along with higher rates of obesity and depression.
How can educators, parents, guardians and professionals promote the educational promises of screen time while also mitigating the negative consequences?
The Northern Illinois University College of Education’s spring Community Learning Series will examine this question from all sides Thursday, March 23, with “The Digital Lives of Children: Giving Screen Time a Closer Look.”
Moderated by Dan Klefstad, host of Northern Public Radio’s popular news program Morning Edition, the panel discussion will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, 231 N. Annie Glidden Road.
WNIJ-89.5 FM is the media sponsor of the event, which is free and open to the public. A networking reception is scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m.
Carolyn Pluim (Vander Schee), chair of the NIU Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, organized the event with faculty members Benjamin Creed, Lindsay Harris and Amy Stich.
“Where does research stand on these questions? To what extent is research considered by technology developers and educational policymakers? How have parents and educators dealt with increased screen time in homes and schools?” Pluim said.
“Our panel will explore these questions through dialogue between the evidence-based opinions of experts in the fields of psychology and educational technology,” she added, “along with the experiences of professional educators and the experiences and perspectives of the audience.”
Panelists will address what current research says about the relationship between screen time and cognitive and emotional development; academic engagement and achievement; literacy, language and communication skills; and physical health.
They also will provide strategies for parents, Pluim said.
Members of the panel:
• Danielle Baran, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital
• John Burkey, superintendent, Huntley Community School District 158
• Susan Goldman, Distinguished Professor of psychology and education, University of Illinois at Chicago
• Thomas Kim, principal, Huntley Middle School, DeKalb Community Unit School District 428
• Jennifer McCormick, fourth-grade teacher, West Elementary, Sycamore Community School District 427
• Jason Underwood, assistant director, NIU Outreach eLearning
The NIU College of Education’s Community Learning Series brings together experts from various disciplines and occupations to discuss topics that have included public school leadership, innovative classroom teaching, gender, civil rights, concussions, athletic training and more.
For more information, call (815) 753-1562 or email cvanders@niu.edu.