Indian mother and child playing game on the smartphone

Screen time to help children thrive

For years, many practitioners argued against allowing infants and toddlers any access to television or computer screens. But, there is new evidence that reveals that technology, when used intentionally, can help even the youngest flourish. Computer programs can teach infants and young children cause and effect, facial expressions, fine motor skills and more. For children struggling with developmental difficulties, technology can play an important role.

The Center on Technology and Disability, a web-based institute managed by FHI 360, is advancing the global conversation on how to use technology to promote early childhood development. Rather than offering proscriptions against screen time, the center is promoting a nuanced discussion about how technology can aid brain development and narrow or close gaps in children’s development, particularly for children with disabilities or at risk of developmental delays. The center, which improves access to the tools needed to help children thrive by offering evidence-based resources and training and technical assistance on assistive and instructional technology, is drawing national attention to the importance of early intervention.

In 2016, the center brought together national, state and local policymakers; researchers; organizations that train and advocate for families and children with disabilities; teachers; and parents for a symposium called Technology Solutions for Early Childhood…The Future is Now! Participants learned about evidence-based practices, current research and ways in which families and teachers are successfully using technology to support children’s learning needs. As technology tools play an ever-growing role in the lives of young children of all abilities, the center will continue to provide leading-edge training, technical assistance and policy guidance.

Project name:

Center on Technology and Disability


U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

How do technology and screen time affect early childhood development?

Jacqueline Hess, Director of Disability Studies and Services & Early Care and Education at FHI 360, explores what technology can offer the youngest children.

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