This past Labor Day weekend I volunteered to help with a food sale at my church. My mom was in charge and I was helping prepare the vegetables by slicing and cutting. I had my soon to be 4 year old daughter with me. My daughter was getting a bit bored and asked to borrow my phone to play games. I said OK, but only to play games and not watch movies (I have Netflix on my phone and she also watches movies ). My mom was surprised at the ease in which my daughter navigated through my phone to get to her games. My mom exclaimed, “She knows technology better than me!” One of the older ladies, who was also helping out, then made a statement that too much technology is causing kids to be dumb. I calmly explained that while technology can have a negative effect on growing children (like too much gaming and TV), I limit my daughter’s exposure to TV but do encourage her to play educational games. So, while technology is viewed as a hindrance to education by some, if used correctly it can be a tool to help children learn and adapt to the increasing use of technology in today’s world (that includes the education world).
“When used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.” – National Association for the Education of Young Children and Fred Rogers Center. This statement was a key message in a report that was published by these two organizations. So while many people think that technology is bad for toddlers and children, when used correctly it can be a good tool to help them develop. Advances in technology means that we must all adapt, which includes toddlers as well. We are now seeing more and more schools using Smartboards and tablets as a tool for teaching. This technology is being adopted more and more each day. I helped a friend of mine set up her Smartboard (this was her first time at a school with one) and gave her ideas on where to look for lessons. She, as a teacher, is also learning to adopt technology.
In addition to using technology in schools, we are seeing more and more parents use apps to help teach their toddlers (I am one of them). A report published by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop showed that 72% of the top selling apps ,on Itunes, targeted for pre-school or elementary aged children were educational. While I do allow my daughter to use my phone to play games, I am always conscious of what games I download for her and make sure that they are educational. I also limit her time on my phone, because I do not want her to always be on it. I do feel that letting her play (mostly while we wait) will help her adapt better as technology advances.
Eventually, we will see more and more technology in our schools. Additionally, more and more studies will be done to look at the effects of it and our children in their school environment. Despite some who will object to these new trends, it is obvious that when used properly technology can be used as a good educational tool. I want to fully disclose that I work in the IT field, so for me technology and its use is important. One of the biggest issues we have in my field are users adopting new technology. For this reason, I am a proponent of using technology to help us not only educate, but also to teach how to use it. Consequently, our children will be better prepared for future technology.