Parents, libraries balance digital offerings with limits on screen time

Posted March 18
Updated March 19

— The North Carolina Kids’ Digital Library launched last month and houses over 3,700 e-books, audiobooks and educational videos. Any child from Pre-K to fourth grade with a North Carolina public library card can access the site to books on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

With this new tool, North Carolina’s kids have their favorite titles at their fingertips. And while increased access to books can be great for childhood literacy, studies show that kids’ brains respond better when they use physical books.

At Eva Perry Regional Library in Apex, parents and children present for weekly toddler story time are navigating this new digital landscape.

Kelly Queen said while she wants to make sure five-year-old Emmaline still appreciates a physical book, she also uses new technologies to stock up on reading materials for those long car rides and appreciates e-books as a convenient alternative to paper and hardbacks.

“I think our whole culture is going more digital," Queen said. "We’re a Kindle family. We love reading books onlline."

Queen said digital offers a convenience factor over the library.

"It takes time, you have to drive there," she said. "You have to find the time to get there You have to go in.”

As for digital technology in North Carolina public schools and day cares, the North Carolina Division of Child Development has a strict rule: No screen time for children under 2, and when kids are introduced to digital learning in school, screen time should be limited to no more than 30 minutes a day.

At The Goddard School in Cary, owner Lea Gombar says that E-books can be a great alternative, and introducing kids to digital learning has its benefits. She also emphasized the importance of parents and caregivers monitoring kids while they learn to navigate online educational resources. In Gombar’s opinion, resources like the Kid’s Digital Library can give access to children who may not live close to a library or those who have parents that work late and don’t have time to take them to the library.


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