Program on Youth and Technology

Kids relaxing and reading on beanbag chair and floor.Overview

The prevalent use of technology by youth in formal educational and informal social settings, and individually raise a number of issues related to how young people access, apply, create, and share information. These issues range from questions at the individual level about developing basic digital citizenship skills to impacts on intellectual and ethical development. Questions also include societal issues from perpetuating the digital divide to impacts on economic development, innovation, and ultimately global competition. As a critical access point, libraries serving youth are not only implicated by policies regarding technology use among young people, they are also a powerful ally for decision makers as they develop policies, especially in areas that are still emerging and influence future directions in information policy.

OITP Discussion Papers and Resources

Discussion paper - Libraries and Coding for Children and Teens:  Key Conclusions(.pdf)
A discussion and analysis of library coding activities for youth.

Draft Concept Paper - Little Scientists: Considering New Approaches to Early Childhood Education (.pdf)
A scan of recent scholarly research on computational thinking among young children and a discussion of its implications for early childhood instruction.

Draft Concept Paper - Disrupting the Culture of Learning in the Library (.pdf)
Musings on the role libraries can and should play in preparing learners of all ages and backgrounds for participation in the 21st century economy.

OITP Youth and Tech on Medium
A hub for OITP Youth and Tech content on

Selected Relevant Programs and Projects

NSF STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM + C) program
"The STEM+C Partnerships program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and computing by K-12 students and teachers, through research on, and development of, courses, curriculum, course materials, pedagogies, instructional strategies, or models that innovatively integrate computing into one or more STEM disciplines, or integrate STEM content into the teaching and learning of computing."

CS10K Community
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and maintained by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the CS10K Community is a component of NSF’s CS10K initiative, which seeks to have 10,000 well-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the United States

Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)
"The Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) works in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program to strengthen and advance the field of professional informal science education and its infrastructure by providing resources for practitioners, researchers, evaluators and STEM-based professionals."

Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE): Broadening Participation in STEM
"CADRE supports and connects researchers and developers in K-12 STEM education. Broadening Participation aims to strengthen the STEM fields and community by providing enhanced opportunities to underserved and underrepresented populations at all levels of STEM education."

An NSF-supported robotics program -- developed by the Tufts University-based research group DevTech -- which boosts computational thinking among early elementary students through the use of a computer “language” called CHERP, which allows users to create programs using simple icons or physical, wooden blocks.

The Social Robotics "SoRo" Toolkit
A toolkit, created by scholars at the MIT Media Lab, which helps pre-school-aged  children develop computational thinking skills by utilizing reusable and drawable stickers to teach a robot new rules.

Growing Young Minds (.pdf)
A report from IMLS exploring how museums and libraries create lifelong learners.

Selected Relevant Academic Works

Gopnik, Allison. "Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications." Science 337, 1623 (2012).
An article asserting that very young children think much more scientifically than most people realize – i.e. they recognize statistical patterns and test hypotheses against data.

Fisher, Kelly et. al.”Fostering Mathematical Thinking through Playful Learning.” E. Reese & S. P. Segate (Eds), Contemporary Debates on Child Development and Education (pp. 81-92).
An article suggesting that children best develop mathematical skills and thinking processes through-play-based activities. Fisher is the Assistant Director of the johns Hopkins Science of Learning Institute.

Bates, Alan, et. al. "Examining Computational Skills in Prekindergarteners: The Effects of Traditional and Digital Manipulatives in a Pre-kindergarten Classroom." Early Childhood Research and Practice 17, 1 (2015).
An article comparing the computational learning skills young children derive from digital learning tools to those they derive from “traditional manipulatives.”

Bebell, D. & Kay, R. "One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment." 9(2). (2010).
A paper that examines "the educational impacts of the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative (BWLI), a pilot program that provided 1:1 technology access to all students and teachers across five public and private middle schools in western Massachusetts."

Oates, A. "Evidences of Learning in an Art Museum Makerspace." (Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington). (2015).
An investigation of the learning value of a makerspace.

ALA Youth Division Websites

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

Core Program Staff

Marijke Visser - Program Director (Associate Director ALA OITP)

Chris Harris - Program Fellow (Director, School Library System, Genessee Valley Educational Partnership)

Charlie Wapner - Program Assistant (Information Policy Analyst, ALA OITP)