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Youth, tech and PB&J at Midwinter

Children using an iPad.
From Flickr. Photo credit: K.W. Barrett

Technology is ubiquitous in our society today. It’s in our classrooms, businesses and homes, on our wrists and in our pockets. As the ambit of everyday objects and activities that employ – or even require the use of – technology continues to expand, what are the consequences for children and teens? Answering this question requires careful consideration of several policy issues in the context of youth, including, but not limited to: information access, digital literacy, diversity and economic development.

Realizing the importance of this complex task, OITP recently launched a Program on Youth and Technology. At the ALA 2016 Midwinter Meeting in Boston, OITP staff will host a meeting to accelerate the program’s work. The meeting will explore such topics as computational thinking, play-based learning and educational disruption through moderated discussions and hands-on activities (including the deliberative construction of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich).

Specific questions the meeting will address (devised by OITP Youth and Technology Fellow Chris Harris) include:

  1. Are there factors such as quality of software based interactions and level of parental engagement time that libraries could influence to tip the ongoing debate over children’s screen time?
  2. Are there developmental milestones in the psychological, logical, and brain development of children that need to be considered in relation to teaching computational thinking and the fundamentals of computer science/coding?
  3. Are there aspects of STEM/STEAM that are not being addressed comprehensively on which libraries could take leadership?

Do you have thoughts on these or other questions? Post them in the comment section. Are you attending Midwinter and interested in attending the meeting? Contact OITP Associate Director Marijke Visser at: Also, be sure to visit the program’s work-in-progress web page for more on OITP’s youth and tech work to date. It’s a living portal, so check back periodically for updates.

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Charlie Wapner

Charlie Wapner is an information policy analyst for the Washington Office.

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