Much of my work during the past decade has involved helping parents better understand the problems of unfettered media and technology access to their kids. But this doesn't mean that my colleagues and I oppose children using media and the latest digital content and tools. Rather, there are many positives that can come from the appropriate use of high-quality media and technology. Moreover, when used widely, and with appropriate supervision from parents and teachers, kids can learn a ton from those mobile videos, apps and programs that saturate their lives 24/7.
The bottom line is clear: children learn from everything and everyone around them. Research makes it evident that early learning begins well before kids start walking and talking. Indeed, more than 80 percent of a child's brain develops before age 5. This means that much of the critical learning that will mold that child's brain and help her become successful later in school starts with the early efforts of her parents.
Everyone recognizes that a parent is a child's first teacher. As community members, each of us has a moral and economic responsibility to ensure that these early teachers have all of the resources they need so that their children get their best shot at success. Unfortunately, many families are struggling to understand what they can do in their everyday lives to improve their children's chances.
This is where our major new national campaign - Too Small to Fail - plays such an important role. Partnering with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a long-time child advocate, and with an expert team of advisors in the field of early childhood development, we're building a public action campaign that will both highlight critical research and use technology to connect more easily with parents to motivate them to make those changes in their families' lives. As business leaders and employers, we need to support working parents to give them more time with their young children.
In addition, it's imperative that opinion leaders understand why we need to spend resources in these areas. What other countries get that we in the United States don't, however, is that in order to build strong communities with smart, capable people, we need to invest in their early learning, and we need to do it now. This is exactly what we aim to address with Too Small to Fail.
At the end of the day, it doesn't take an expert in brain science to figure out what kids really need to succeed: nurturing and support to help them buck the odds. But it's up to us to make sure that our children have a chance to develop properly and thrive. The future of our country depends on it.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Save the Children, as part of the latter's drive for universal early education, which is the focus of their gala on October 1 in New York. For more information about Save the Children, click here.
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