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Increase Screen Time to Increase Literacy Proficiency

Like it or not, educators and parents of young schoolchildren know (or will soon find out) the rigorous literacy demands being placed on students today. A friend shared she was surprised by the reading level and number of books her six-year-old was supposed to be reading. She'd been reading bedtime stories to her daughter. What she didn't realize was that schools today expect young children to be reading their own stories with proficiency at such a young age.

The research

This is happening despite research that indicates we are pushing children to learn before they are developmentally ready. Doing this can have harmful consequences for children.

In their report Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose, education professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her colleagues write about the hazards of early reading instruction. They warn: “When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

Unfortunately, if you’re a teacher or parent, even if you feel this way your job and/or child’s success depends on how they meet today’s expectations.

What not to do

One of the worst things a parent or teacher can do is to associate reading with anxiety and failure. One way to avoid this is to make reading fun with as many scaffolds as possible.

While for some families this may mean investing in expensive programs or tutors to help their child keep up, there is another way.

Finding high-quality early literacy apps.

Solution: Increase Screen time

If you’re lucky enough to be in a district that purchases and provides a platform such as Footsteps2Brilliance students will be more likely to meet today’s demands. Their research shows that in just one month students have measurable results in vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking, and comprehension. Outside research shows that students who used Footsteps2Brilliance gained 7 months of vocabulary acquisition on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test in just 1 month. That is almost an entire year’s worth of academic progress.

Unfortunately, you may not be in a district that uses advanced tools for advanced literacy. Fortunately, there is an app now available to any parent or teacher for students. The app can be downloaded even if their school or district has not invested in it. 

It’s called Rivet. It’s free! It also has no ads and it’s COPPA compliant

Screenshot of Rivet app

The app contains more than 2000 leveled books for students in grades K-2. The app has a kid-friendly interface with word help to decrease frustration level. It has a read along feature enabling the book to read aloud to children. It is personalized so kids can choose their favorite books, avatars, and skins. It also has authentic, real-world reflection. Readers can rate and review each story they read. They can also save favorite stories and play games based on the stories they enjoy the most.

Using an app like Rivet means increased screen time results in increased reading time. What does that look like for readers using Rivet?

  • +20% more time reading
  • 29 average minutes per day reading
  • 4.2 nights per week read
  • 5.3 books read per day

The Verdict

While click-bate headlines love to scare parents and educators about the risks of screen time, it’s not that simple. Intelligently directed screen time with adult guidance and support can be the very thing kids need for success.

What do you think? Are apps like Rivet or Footsteps2Brilliance something that could help the students with whom you work? Have you tried them? Have you had success with something else?      

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Tech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal.