Reading Apps for Kids Are a ‘Digital Wild West’ with Few Guideposts
New report argues for more emphasis on using technology to help
parents and educators support young learners
Digital apps designed to teach young children to read are an increasingly large share of the market, but parents and educators have little to no information about whether and how they work, according to a report released today by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The report, Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West, shows that most of the skills targeted by children’s reading apps are very basic and do not address higher-level competencies that young children need to become strong readers.
At the same time, several nascent but promising initiatives in early childhood programs have taken different approaches to technology, harnessing its power to assist teachers and parents in helping children learn to read, according to the report, written by experts in early literacy and technology at the New America Foundation and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
“Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, and technology will never change that,” says Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “But technology can help us connect with parents of young children, and it can help families promote early literacy skills. Many parents, though, need guidance in choosing the right technology and knowing how to use it.”
The Campaign is a collaborative effort among foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities to increase the number of low-income children who read proficiently by the end of third grade. Currently, only a third of U.S. fourth graders and barely one in six low-income children hit that mark, contributing to wider achievement gaps and higher dropout rates.