Digital Media Resources

Introduction

Welcome to ALSC's Digital Media Resources page. This collection is a go-to list for children’s librarians navigating the evolving digital landscape. Discover curated articles, blog posts, videos, and websites about media mentorship, podcasts, digital tool advisory, and more. The articles are categorized by the following topics: Children and Technology Deep Dives; Media Mentorship and Healthy Tech Choices; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Creativity and Gaming; Digital Curation; and Audio.



The ALSC Children and Technology Committee revisits and revises this guide each year in order to share what we think are the most current and relevant resources on different digital topics. Our newest version of the guide includes new resources, new resource types (including videos), and new categories (for example Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; VR/AR; coding; gaming; and social media use) that we thought were important to explore—as they are affecting even our youngest library patrons. We hope to encourage a healthy dialogue around these topics and to continually update this site with new materials, including your recommendations.

Thank you,

ALSC Children and Technology Committee

Topic Headings

Children and Technology Deep Dives

Media Mentorship and Healthy Tech Choices

Media Mentorship

Screen Time and Media Balance

Early Literacy

Digital Citizenship

Social Media Use and Concerns

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Creativity and Gaming

VR/AR

Makerspaces/Creativity Tools

Gaming

Coding

Digital Curation

Libraries and e-books

App Advice

Audio Resources

Podcasting tools

Digital Music in Programs

Children and Technology Deep Dives

Explore extensive resources from organizations concerned with the broad and current implications of children and technology.

Common Sense Education [Organization]

Users can navigate to resources for K-12 digital citizenship, educational technology ratings and reviews, and technology professional development resources.

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media [Organization]

The work of the Fred Rogers Center resonates with Fred’s own belief in the positive potential of television and new media for supporting the healthy social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop [Organization]

The mission of the Cooney Center is to advance children’s learning through digital media. The focus is on the challenges of educating children in the ever-changing world of technology.

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Media Mentorship and Healthy Tech Choices

Tools for library staff and parents to support healthy media and tech use.

Media Mentorship

Media Literacy in Early Childhood Report: Framework, Child Development Guidelines, and Tips for Implementation [Report]

A report created by Erikson Institute, ALSC, and additional partners funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). It includes materials that help develop the understanding and teaching of media literacy in early childhood.

To Tech or Not to Tech?: The Debate about Technology, Young Children, and the Library [Article]

Based on a presentation from the 2018 ALA Annual Conference, this article from Children & Libraries explores research into children and technology, practical applications, and effective practices.

What Is a Media Mentor? [Article]

An example of media mentorship in action by the Scarborough Public Library in Maine. This article in the local paper provides families with an introduction to the librarian's role as media mentor, along with specific tips and resources for meaningful media engagement.

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Screen Time and Media Balance

Media and Children Communication Toolkit from the American Academy of Pediatrics [Toolkit]

Media is everywhere. TV, the Internet, and video games all compete for children's attention. The information on these pages, including evidenced-based research and other resources, can help you understand and communicate the impact media has on children's lives.

Screen Time and Children: How to Guide Your Child [Article]

With screens virtually everywhere, monitoring a child's screen time can be challenging. To complicate matters, some media choices can be educational and support children's social development. With this guide from the Mayo Clinic, learn how to support media use for children and families.

Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much [Video]

From the PBS show “Above the Noise,” this video discusses some of the science on the effects of screen time in a quick and accessible way, detailing the differences in active versus passive use. Included are links to related resources, including materials that can be used in a classroom or library program.

Why I’m Not Writing About Kids and Screen Time Anymore [Article]

From the Wall Street Journal, a family and tech columnist details a new commitment to family dynamics around screen usage rather than simple ‘screen time’. Includes five basic rules for screen usage that were adapted from numerous studies.

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Early Literacy

ALSC's Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media[Website]

The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is given to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience.

Exploring Technology with Infants and Toddlers [Video]

One-hour webinar recording for Head Start teachers introducing the technology component of STEAM in the classroom with infants and toddlers (TIP: activities are screen-free).

Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers [Article]

Quick info adaption of the 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics’ Beyond Screen Time: a Parent’s Guide to Media Use. Organized with bullet points, age charts, quick tips for parents, and tools for application (family media use plan). One-click translation to Spanish.

Quality and Context Matters: Linking Children’s Digital Media Use and Skills [Article]

Children’s use of digital media has increased during the pandemic. This article describes how this affects children and how parents and caregivers can support learning and development.

Differences in Parent-Toddler Interactions With Electronic Versus Print Books [Article & Video]

A 2019 study published in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sharing print books with toddlers due to increased dialogic reading versus electronic books.

Virtual Storytime Services Guide [Toolkit]

This digital guidebook, commissioned by ALSC and Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL), shares best practices for librarians who are hosting virtual storytime programs.

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Digital Citizenship

Be Internet Awesome[Toolkit]

Includes International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and American Association of School Librarians (AASL) aligned digital citizenship lesson plans for the classroom, a pledge, interactive games aimed at students in grades 3-6, and more—all free to access. Created by Google in partnership with Connect Safely, Family Online Safety Institute, and iKeepSafe.

Teaching Digital Citizenship [Toolkit]

K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum developed by Common Sense Media in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Lessons are organized by age bands (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12), and can be adapted for library use.

PBS LearningMedia Digital Citizenship Resources [Toolkit]

The technological literacy section of PBS LearningMedia contains lots of digital citizenship resources that can be filtered by grade level (PreK-12) and media type, including videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more.

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Social Media Use and Concerns

Kids as Young as 8 Are Using Social Media More Than Ever, Study Finds [Article]

This New York Times article outlines the results of a Common Sense Media survey that highlights the sharp increase in social media use by children as young as age 8 (a 17% increase in the last four years). It details why content on certain platforms may be especially harmful to children younger than 13, and includes tips for parents on how to navigate the social media world with young children.

How to Help Families Determine If Social Media May Be Problematic for Their Child [Article]

This article was published in American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) News. It condenses a few of the takeaways from a major Wall Street Journal article that revealed how social media is negatively affecting young people—particularly in the area of teens and self-image.

Social Media: Top Setting Tips to Promote Positive Boundaries & Mental Health for Young People [Video]

This video and corresponding article created by the University of Michigan medical school provide actionable tips for adjusting privacy settings on popular social media sites. These settings—which include privacy settings and content limitations for Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube—are particularly important for parents who are managing the social media use of their children.

When Is Your Brain Ready for Social Media? [Video]

This video, co-produced by Common Sense Media and KQED, is aimed at younger viewers. In a digestible style, the video talks about privacy laws (why most social media companies require users to be 13 and up), why these restrictions exist, and also the benefits of responsible social media use. The video also includes a great bibliography of extra resources (in the video’s Description section).

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A selection of resources to help find, use and evaluate digital media through a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lens.

KIDMAP (Kids Inclusive and Diverse Media Action Project) Checklist [Toolkit]

This digital checklist can aid in evaluating and identifying high-quality, inclusive children's digital media that reflects a diversity of identities and cultures.

Recommendations for Media With Both Great Storytelling and Inclusion [Listicle]

Find suggested games, TV shows, and other media in this round-up from a group of children's media experts, including leaders at Common Sense Media, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, and the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA.

The Inclusion Imperative: Research From Common Sense Media [Report]

This research focuses on the role of media representation as children develop their understanding of ethnic-racial groups and dynamics. In addition to the full report, Common Sense Media drills down into various aspects of their research through additional resources, including infographics, blog posts, and fact sheets. A spotlight on parents' views on diverse representations in children's media can inform library services to support families' needs in this area.

How To Discuss Race, Social Justice Activism, and the Media With Children in the Digital Age [Article]

Geared for parents. Discussion on how colorblind parenting can be more harmful than not for children. Also includes ways to talk about racial events of our day within the context of digital news and media consumption.

Assistive Technology Resources From Reading Rockets [Toolkit]

A robust collection of resources about assistive technology for children with language-based learning disabilities. Includes videos, articles, introductory information, and FAQs for both educators and parents.

Digital Literacy for Students With Multiple Disabilities [Article]

Created by the Perkins School for the Blind, this article suggests digital literacy tech activities for children who have multiple disabilities and are visually impaired. Although this guide is aimed at teachers, the activities could be incorporated into youth digital literacy programming at the library.

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Creativity and Gaming

Resources to assist library staff in evaluating and understanding gaming and makerspace technology.

VR/AR

7 Augmented Reality Tools for the Classroom [Listicle]

A technology integration specialist shares some ways her district uses augmented reality to boost engagement in learning.

AR and VR Games and Apps for Learning [Listicle]

25 tools for creating AR and VR experiences in the K-12 classroom, reviewed with a critical eye by Common Sense Media. Immersive worlds, 3D models, and virtual field trips are included with tips for successful integration.

Inside the Metaverse: Potential Dangers Virtual Reality Poses for Kids [Video]

This Today Show segment highlights a March 2022 Common Sense Media white paper (Kids and the Metaverse), outlining potential harms children and teenagers may face while engaging with the metaverse, as well as guidance for parents, policymakers, and developers.

Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR [Video]

Common Sense Media shares a brief video with six tips for keeping VR safe and fun for kids, as well as a full report co-authored with researchers at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University. Research focuses on the potential positive and negative effects of VR experiences for young people, as well as a national survey of parents.

VR Scout [Website]

News on VR, AR, and Mixed Reality trends, including content on educational uses, including using VR to connect incarcerated parents with their children, and an AR game platform that allows children of all abilities to compete on a level playing field.

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Makerspaces/Creativity Tools

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources [Listicle]

This page from Open Education Database (OEDb) offers links with explanations separated by type of resource (blogs/articles and directories), as well as general information about makerspaces.

Makerspaces [List]

This list of makerspace resources was compiled by the Public Library Association (PLA). Resources are grouped by interest area: Getting Started, Legal Issues, and more.

Makers in the Library [Toolkit]

Developed in collaboration with ten diverse public libraries in California, the Makers in the Library toolkit guides you through a flexible and adaptable process to meet your library's needs. The toolkit offers options for any size space and any budget.

Ultimate Makerspace Resource Guide [List]

On this page, you will find over 101 links to makerspace related articles, guides, checklists, and more that will help you get started with hands-on maker education.

100+ Makerspace Products and Materials [Listicle]

This extensive list of products and materials will help you stock a makerspace. It includes a wide variety of items from robots to coding apps.

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Gaming

Fostering Healthy Online Communities [Podcast Episode]

This podcast episode from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop features a game developer, researcher, and co-founder of the Fair Play Alliance. It examines gamers’/community members' responsibility to promote the well-being of other gamers in an online ecosystem and what it means to foster that type of environment with and for children.

Roblox and Kids: What You Need to Know [Blog Post]

This recent ALSC blog post authored by Children & Technology committee member Arika Dickens, covers the basics of the highly popular online game Roblox. It covers the game’s popularity, highlights things to be aware of (such as game-related scams), includes tips for managing the game from a librarian and educator standpoint, and includes a hefty bibliography of helpful related resources.

13 (Secretly) Educational Video Games That Kids Will Actually Like [Listicle]

An annotated list of 13 video games for kids and teens from CNET. The games range from expected favorites like Minecraft and The Oregon Trail to Zoombinis and Eloh. Players will learn a range of subject areas while engaging with fun, interactive games. The article includes a link to an ongoing study that highlights the cognitive value of video games.

Best Games for Kids [List]

Curated by Common Sense Media, this extensive resource of the best PC and platform-based games includes filters by age, from little kids to teens. Discover new games for children and families, as well as old classics.

Family Gaming Guide [Website]

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB)’s user-friendly guide for families and caregivers on all aspects of gaming. From selecting games to establishing household rules to playing online games, ESRB provides concise advice about the games kids are playing and the key information carers need for peace of mind.

Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Discord [Toolkit]

A Q&A about Discord designed for parents/adults, from Common Sense Media. While now known as a robust social media platform, Discord’s initial use was with gamers who utilized its chat function to communicate with friends while gaming. The toolkit’s short video, 6 Things Parents Should Know about Discord, is useful for a quick overview of the platform.

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Coding

6 Reasons for Coding in the K-5 Classroom [Article]

This article discusses the benefits of offering STEM, in general, and coding, in particular, to K-5 students.

Code.org [Website]

This site offers a wealth of resources for coding at all grade levels, including articles, videos, lesson plans, and a version of Scratch that can be used with Code.org lesson plans.

PBS KIDS ScratchJr [List]

With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, kids can create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite PBS KIDS characters in combination with the popular, free ScratchJr app. The storytelling possibilities are endless with this creative coding app for children ages 5-8. This page offers a list of resources and activities designed for educators to support the use of the app in both formal and informal learning settings.

Top 5 Free Middle School Computer Science Resources to Teach Coding [Listicle]

Looking for introductory coding activities to complete in a one-hour in-class or after-school program with tweens? Here’s a short article created with teachers in mind.

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Digital Curation

Resources to help library staff evaluate, purchase, and recommend e-books and apps for children and families.

Libraries and e-books

The Ins and Outs of Buying E-books: How To Bolster Virtual Collections During the Pandemic [Article]

A crash course article from School Library Journal on the in and outs of purchasing e-books for sharing with students/patrons. COVID lockdowns may be over, but these real-life scenarios of librarians making tough choices and explaining the reasons for their decisions are still relevant today.



How to Find K-12 e-books: Getting Started [List]

Compiled by Boston College Libraries (BCL), this guide provides a list of features to look for when considering juvenile e-books, along with descriptions of freely available juvenile e-book apps, as well as e-book apps available only to BCL patrons.



Beyond the Book: New Publishing Models and Online Platforms Feed Gen Z's Need for Free or Cheap Reads [Article]

An explanation of fanfiction and free or cheap subscription reading services platforms and an introduction of how libraries can be a part of this growing trend, from Library Journal.



Project Gutenberg Children’s Bookshelf [Website]

e-books found on Project Gutenberg are typically digitized versions of historical books that are now in the public domain. The titles may be more interesting for research purposes, rather than entertainment, and careful reading should be applied to content that may be racially or culturally problematic for today’s readers. Project Gutenberg’s Children’s Bookshelf contains hundreds of titles that can be sorted by title or release date. Technical Notes: Books in this collection can be viewed directly on the site or downloaded in various formats (including ePub, PDF, Kindle, and more).



How to Get Free e-books [Article]

This advice is more useful for personal e-book access, rather than for school or public libraries, but it is a great resource for building a free e-book library on a single device. Updated September 2022.

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App Advice

Apps As Learning Tools: A Systematic Review [Report]

Synthesized research review from Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics looks at emerging evidence and determines that interactive apps are useful and accessible tools to support early academic learning.

Five Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Choosing Literacy Apps [Article]

Short article from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center offers insight into small, but key things that are often overlooked when choosing literacy apps, and shares tips on how to pick one that will not overwhelm the child.

AASL Best Digital Tools for Teaching & Learning [Listicle]

Selections made by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) of the best educational apps, websites, and other digital tools.

Common Sense Media Best Apps for Families [Listicle]

Recommended apps for ages 2 through teens from Common Sense Media's editors. Apps are organized into thematic lists (such as "20 Apps for Kids Who Think Reading Is Boring" and "Educational Apps That Don't Need Wi-Fi or Data"). Recommended apps can also be filtered by age.

Madison Public Library AppFinder [List]

Search tool with reviews of high-quality apps for kids recommended by the Madison Public Library (WI).

NYTimes List of Online Learning Games for Kids [Listicle]

Learning apps and games for kids as recommended by educators, experts, and parents.

Reading Rockets Recommended Literacy Apps [Listicle]

Recommended literacy apps that provide practice for essential skills in print awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.

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Audio Resources

A collection of tools and materials that will help you find and create quality audio content for children.

Podcasting tools

Podcast Reviews From Common Sense Media [Website]

These reviews provide detailed information about the content, quality, and age-appropriateness of different podcasts, and are designed to help parents and other adults make informed decisions about what their children should listen to.

Gen-Z Media [List]

Podcast shows for family listening. Many of their shows are serial audio dramas. Shows are all free but come from multiple media partners.

Kids Listen [Website]

High-quality shows from multiple podcasters. The members of this grassroots audio nonprofit include a variety of podcasters and podcast supporters all working to elevate the medium and promote high-caliber media for kids. The shows are free; see the full list of podcasts.

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge [Website]

Information about NPR's Student Podcast Challenge for middle school students and beyond. Includes great resources for teachers and students getting started with podcasting. Provides superlative examples of audio created by and for students.

School Library Journal's Kidcast Series [Articles]

A series of podcast advisory articles on various subject areas specifically for librarians.

Going Beyond Surface-Level Diversity in Children’s Podcasts [Article]

In this post for the We Need Diverse Books blog, Sandhya Nankani, the creator and executive producer of The Story Seeds Podcast, shares insights about intentionally developing a podcast that gives voice to communities who are often excluded from media.

KQED Teach: Making Audio to Inspire Learning [Toolkit]

Free online course offered through KQED Media that leads educators through the entire podcasting (or other audio projects) process. Participants receive feedback from KQED liaisons and end up with example lesson plans, tips for which tools to use, and their own model podcast project.

Podcasting 101 [Videos]

A collection of instructional videos from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program designed to teach beginners the basics of creating and producing their own podcasts. The series covers content such as choosing a topic, recording and editing audio, and promoting the podcast.

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Digital Music in Programs

Music and Storytime Programs [Blog Post]

This ALSC blog post authored by Children & Technology committee member Angelique Kopa

is about incorporating music into your storytime programs. Includes an overview of various streaming music services and other sources for free music online.

Know Better Do Better Project [Videos]

This YouTube playlist is dedicated to new, original songs created as replacements for popular yet problematic folk songs that have played a role in sustaining systemic racism (some commonly used in storytimes). You can also refer to an index of all songs from the Know Better Do Better Project.

Diversify Your Storytime Music [Blog Post]

This blog post highlights a variety of musical artists from typically underrepresented backgrounds, including Black, Latine, Asian, and LGBTQIA+, and includes links to their YouTube and Spotify pages.

NYPL Sings [Videos]

An original album of children’s songs (and accompanying guide) developed by the New York Public Library. The album focuses on singing as a means for caregivers and librarians to bond with children and help them develop early literacy skills. The songs are available to stream on Spotify and YouTube, as well as to download as audio files.

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