Technology in Early Childhood Education: Is the Use of Technology Programs "Bad" for Young Children?
I want to be up-front with you. I am a strong advocate of using technology in the home and classroom—in appropriate ways. My answer to the title of this article is an unequivocal “No!” I support the use of technology with young children for a number of reasons.
First, today’s children are the generation.com. They have a great deal of involvement with technology and have spent many years playing with and learning from technology. Children as young as nine months are using the computer, while nestled securely in their parents’ laps. Programs such as Reader Rabbit and Jump-Start Baby are designed for the lapware set. These software programs and others like them constitute the fastest growing software on the market today. They are easy and fun to use, and children learn from them.
A second reason I support the use of technology with children is that the use of technology in early childhood programs can begin to level the educational playing field and close the digital divide that exists between the haves and have-nots of technology. Children from minority and low-income families have less access to computers and the Internet than do their more advantaged classmates.* Having access to and use of computers and other technology at school can help all children get the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in school and life.
I recommend that all early childhood classrooms have a technology center that includes a computer, access to the Internet, a printer, a digital camera, and appropriate learning software.
Here are some guidelines you can use to integrate various kinds of technology into your classroom and programs:
- Remember that technology does not replace the teacher. Computers and other technology are learning tools designed to help children learn and to extend and enrich their learning.
- Apply developmentally appropriate practices to your use of technology with young children. This means you should take into consideration the age, developmental levels, and the individual needs of your children when selecting technology and software for them.
- Collaborate with parents to help them work with their children so that they are not spending all of their time watching television or playing/working with computers.
- Advise parents about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two not be allowed to watch television or work on computers.†
- Monitor children’s use of iPods and other forms of technology that use earphones. Research suggests that it’s not how long children listen, but the volume at which they listen to the music.‡
Read and respond to articles on the use of technology in Early Childhood Education programs at http:// www.prenhall.com/morrison,
* “Computers and Young Children,” Social Forces,” 82, September 2003, 1.
† Nagourney, E., “Hazards: A Study Gauges the Risks for Ears with iPods,” The New York Times, October 24, 2006.
‡ American Academy of Pediatrics, “Media Guidelines for Parents,” retrieved February 27, 2007, from http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/mediause.cfm.
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