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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Early Childhood Education and Care and the Use of Digital Media in Informal Environments

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Early childhood is a time of rapid development when children are constantly influenced by experiences and relationships formed in informal environments. In a world that is increasingly reliant on digital media, parents and other caregivers play an important role in managing their children’s use of it. Parents’ choices regarding digital media use heavily depend on their understanding of how children learn from them and how they impact children’s development at different ages and developmental stages. The use of digital media has potential benefits in terms of improved cognitive and literacy skills, but it also has potential risks in terms of lower executive functioning and social-emotional skills due to a lack of social interactions. This article informs the role of parents and other caregivers who can help children benefit from the opportunities that digital media present, while making sure that children experience real-life interactions that are vital to children’s overall development.

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