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Video games, screen time and early childhood development

Michael Trucano's picture
thre must be a screen here somewhere, where could it be?
there must be a screen here somewhere,
where could it be?

At 9:00 am this past Monday morning, almost 30 people crammed into a small conference room at the World Bank in DC to talk about ... videogames. (A good number more were queued up online to join in, but unfortunately technical snafus prevented them from participating -- our continued apologies if you count yourself among that group.) As the featured presenter at this discussion, my colleague Mariam Adil ("Meet the Woman Who's Shaking Up Pakistan's Social Gaming Industry"), the founder of GRID (Gaming Revolution for International Development), shared some of the interesting and innovative things she has been doing to help create and roll out a number of educational mobile apps, as a contribution to broader discussions on topics related to 'early childhood development' (ECD).

Providing children and their caregivers with access to quality pre-school education opportunities is a primary activity of the World Bank's work related to early childhood development. No one who participated in Monday's discussion expressed the view that 'technology is the answer to the challenges of ECD'. That said:

Are there approaches and activities related to early childhood development worth pursuing that can be complemented, and in some cases helpfully enabled by, new technologies?

As the related World Bank strategy states, "Investing in young children through ECD programs—ensuring they have the right stimulation, nurturing and nutrition—is one of the smartest investments a country can make to address inequality, break the cycle of poverty, and improve outcomes later in life."

Given the proliferation of mobile phones in communities around the world, there can be no denying that such things are increasingly in the hands of parents and caregivers (and, for better or worse in the hands of children as well, both briefly and for extended periods of time).

What are we learning about what is possible, and what is useful, to do with these devices that can complement and extend many ECD activities and programs?


Meeting the moral imperative to end extreme poverty

Adam Russell Taylor's picture
© Estelle Marais/ACT

Last Thursday, over 140 faith-based organization and religious leaders, World Bank and UN officials, and UN ambassadors filled the chapel of the UN Church Center.  At an unusual but moving side event for the UN General Assembly, participants celebrated progress that has been achieved through the Millennium Development Goals and highlighted the critical role that faith organizations will play working alongside other development partners to help end extreme poverty and realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event included remarks by Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, and Ambassador David Donoghue, who had the daunting role of co-chairing the process of negotiations around the SDGs. Part of what made the event so meaningful was the spirit of collaboration between the World Bank, the United Nations, and a broad coalition of faith-based and religious organizations who organized the event. The event’s timing following Yom Kippur and on Eid-al-Alha provided deep religious context.      

Households’ use of long-term finance

Claudia Ruiz's picture

This post is part of a series highlighting the key findings of the Global Financial Development Report 2015 | 2016: Long-Term Finance. You can view the entire series at gfdr2015.

The second part of Chapter 2 of the 2015 Global Financial Development Report examines the use of long-term finance by households. The section first discusses the main reasons that households use long-term finance products, while highlighting the risks inherent to their use. Making use of recent data initiatives, it then shows how usage of long-term finance varies substantially both across and within countries, and then outlines a set of policy recommendations that can help develop and promote long-term finance markets.

Why would households use long-term finance? And what are the risks they can incur?

Long-term finance offers households various tools to achieve their changing objectives throughout their life-cycle. Products such as pensions, insurance, or annuities can help households prepare for retirement, smooth their life cycle income, and insure against various life cycle risks. Student loans or mortgages can make lumpy but potentially high-yield investments affordable to households. Long-term savings instruments can allow households to accumulate and reap term premiums.

Increasingly, inequality within, not across countries, is rising

Jos Verbeek's picture

During the second-half of the last century countries were placed in one of two mutually exclusive camps: north or south, east or west, advanced or emerging, developed or developing. Simple though this categorization of countries had been, it reflected prevailing realities. In 1970, for instance, the global distribution of per capita income showed a clear divide between richer and poorer countries (See Figures 1 and 2). These between-country differences were equally applicable to other development conditions, notably health and education. However, as Hans Rosling emphasized during his last presentation at the World Bank, for the 21st century this binary distinction between countries is outdated. Boundaries between developed and developing regions are less clear today because of the extraordinary social and economic progress achieved in the large majority countries. Global economic activity is less geographically concentrated and increasingly dispersed across production networks that connect metropolitan areas around the world.

What The Martian teaches us about the value of a statistical life

David Evans's picture

This weekend, the movie The Martian opens. It’s based on a book by Andy Weir, the most exciting one I’ve read this year. In the very near future, a mechanical engineer and botanist turned astronaut named Mark Watney gets marooned on Mars, with little hope that he can survive long enough for a rescue team to reach him. The narrative proceeds on two paths, with Mark showing amazing resourcefulness to extend his survival on a barren planet, and the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) at home, scrambling to come up with a plan to save him.

The Martian | Official Trailer

At one point, Mark ponders a big question: “The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?” (He gives an answer, but I’m pretty sure it’s wrong.)

The Martian, bookThroughout the book, I pondered the same question. The researchers at estimate that you can save a life through a long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito net for $3,340. A program of community health promoters in East Africa is estimated to save a child’s life for $4,400. By those estimates, instead of saving Mark Watney (and let’s assume that it cost just $100 million), NASA could have saved almost 30,000 people with mosquito nets or almost 23,000 children through community health promoters.

Beyond the requirements of a thrilling piece of science fiction, why would we make that choice?

Get smarter: A world of development data in your pocket!

Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep's picture
Many dinner conversations and friendly debates proceed in a data vacuum: “The problem is big… very big!” How big exactly? Most likely your friend has no idea. 

It is said that we often live in a new data age. Institutions such as the Bank, UN agencies, NASA, ESA, universities and others have deluged us with an overwhelming amount of new data obtained painstakingly from countries and surveys or observed by the increasing number of eyes in the sky. We have modern tools such as mobile phones that are more powerful than old mainframes I used to use in my university days. You can be in rural Malawi and still have access to decent 3G data networks.
Open data for sustainable development

Tourist trap? Investing in tourism infrastructure

John Kjorstad's picture
What is infrastructure? It’s a fairly simple question with no distinctive right or wrong answer. A text book, or in this case Investopedia, might define infrastructure as “the basic physical systems of a business or nation”—such as transportation, communication, sewage, and water and electricity networks for a start. One’s definition of this asset class is often dependent on their appetite and understanding of risk.

Caring for our common home, Pope Francis and the SDGs

Adam Russell Taylor's picture
Pope Francis became the first Pope to address the UN General Assembly and US Congress

It has been a fascinating time to be in the United States and watch as the media and American public were transfixed by Catholic Pope Francis’ whirlwind three city sojourn to Washington DC, New York City and finally Philadelphia.

It was a trip of firsts. Pope Francis became the first Pope to address a joint session of the US Congress and then a day later marking another first in addressing the UN General Assembly just before member states unanimously adopted Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

It was fitting and profound to have the Pope frame the global goals’ agenda with his remarks, since in many ways his recently released encyclical, Laudato Si, embodies the integrated and indivisible nature of the sustainable development agenda.

It puts both environmental protection and social inclusion as part and parcel to ending poverty and extending dignity instead of being an add-on or at worst an afterthought.