With people everywhere staying home to curb the spread of COVID-19, individuals of all ages are turning to screens for entertainment, information, and socialization. While digital media has been a lifeline during these unprecedented times, parents and caregivers may be wondering what online videos, apps, and games are best for their families. Fortunately, your local children’s library professional is there to help you make savvy, informed choices for your household’s media consumption.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)’s #LookToLibraries campaign shares extensive resources for how caregivers can lean on their libraries for media mentorship. Media mentors work with families to find high-quality videos and websites, share tips for digital privacy and information literacy, and create media plans for how and when to use screens at home. Library professionals are experts in these topics and are happy to connect with your family online or over the phone during the pandemic.
“Children’s library professionals know how to find high-quality content that reflects our diverse community’s experiences and grows young people’s understanding and empathy for others,” Claudia Haines, youth services librarian at Alaska’s Homer Public Library, told I Love Libraries. “We appreciate the unusual circumstances many families find themselves in as a result of the pandemic and consider families’ unique experiences when recommending resources and offering learning programs in different formats.”
Library staff are also uniquely equipped to help others in their community learn media mentorship skills. “The most rewarding aspect of my media mentorship work right now is empowering teens to be mentors for each other and younger kids,” Haines shared. “In the process, they are growing their own media literacy skills, advocating for youth in our community, becoming effective, empathetic communicators, and acting as positive role models.”
These are overwhelming times, but your library is here to support you during the pandemic and beyond; don’t be too hard on yourself if you need help managing your family’s screen time and media choices. “Everything you are feeling is OK. We are living in the midst of a global pandemic with no end in sight—you don’t have to keep it all together!” ALSC president Kirby McCurtis told I Love Libraries. “It’s hard to evaluate the sources and appropriateness for children quickly. Media mentors’ goal is not to judge, but to help parents and caregivers understand the context and if the content is right for their child.”
Visit the #LookToLibraries website for even more resources and materials. Plus, check out ALSC President Kirby McCurtis’s appearance on ABC’s “Pandemic: What You Need to Know” explaining how families can lean on children’s library professionals for support.