Technology in Early Childhood

Even writing the title of this blog – made me feel a little uneasy in how many debates this topic sparks across society more and more each day!

I came from the age of, we had hard copy encyclopedias in the house and went to libraries to search for information that was needed for assignments and to gain knowledge and facts -so the introduction of that little search engine called “Google” was such an overwhelming change literally for society ‘overnight’!

I also come from the age of when mobile phones came with a battery pack that was the size of a small esky, and we thought we were cool as a family to have a phone that you took outside the house and people could get in touch with you whenever – what a concept!

Nowadays – you are never uncontactable really, the answer to the questions you have or research needed is a keyboard sentence away and delivered to you in nanoseconds! And not forgetting the games and entertainment technology provides us – gone are the scrabble board games. Why would you use that– when with technology you can connect to someone thousands of miles away and challenge a stranger to a game of linguistic smarts!

So in light of the above – does technology play a part in the Early Childhood sector in regards to children’s development? Well depending on who and on what day you ask – Yes it does play a part and is a necessary component of society and development – but how much is too much, and how much is necessary?

How do Early Learning Centres bring technology to children in the classrooms?

Smartboards, watching documentaries, educational apps, and iPads?

Technology has transformed the creation of educational content for children. Children can watch a lion in an actual habitat rather than read about it or see a static picture. Children can interact with letters and words by dragging letters around the screen and hearing how sounds work.

Children can learn anything – from the names of animals to the characteristics that make mammals different from reptiles. And this technology allows Educators to build on the conversations the children have had – technology must always enhance previous learning and provide more learning opportunities. Technology cannot just be used as a tool for convenience because it is just there.

While one of the attractive features of tablets is that children, from an early age, can use devices independently, however research repeatedly shows that social interaction supports learning, so devices and apps on these devices should ideally be used in pairs or in small groups to really maximise the learning that is occurring and then the learning and information from the device is built on again away through conversation with other children and the Educator.

Technology is the way of the future and this just cannot be ignored – however life is all about balance in everything we do, and technology is an area that definitely needs this balanced approach. So as long as Educators are using this technology to enhance learning experiences, and promote thought-provoking questions, it has a place in centres. And as long as technology use is far less than the other aspects of a day in a centre and children’s learning – there is a place and learning is on the right track.