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Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom: Access and Excess

Oh, the wonderful world of technology-based educational tools. Through previous posts, personal opinions of technology and its influence on early childhood and school-age classrooms and individual minds have been muddy at best. The benefits are undeniable but are they worth the expected damaged outcomes? Hence the muddy opinion.

There have been truly educational websites as Peep and the Big Wide World (National Science Foundation, n.d.) so blissfully demonstrates project-based science experiments; award winners such as ABCMouse (ABCMouse.com, n.d.) lead children ages 2-8 (developmental age of course) in subject related games that promote growth at the students' pace; and rural public schools are moving towards technology-based curricula in attempts to meet demands from clients in regards to college and career preparation (Finegan, & Austin, 2002). Berger (2018) states that lack of adequate access to this technology which was creating gender and socioeconomic achievement gaps is no longer a negative issue for discussion. It is not the lack of access, but the excess of access to technology that has caused personal anguish.


A now-infamous topic of debate began while facilitating an open discussion during a training titled "Focus on the Three's: Technology in extended-care" (2013) that highlighted the disadvantages teachers face when attempting to juggle implementation of technological development with appropriate screen time. "Our kids come in with a screen glued to their faces and talk of all-night YouTube binges", it is recalled one three-year-old teacher exclaimed from the audience. We concluded that educators are severely limited in our ability to effectively nurture healthy utilization of technology without a legitimate home to school connection that unites families and educators to collaborate on topics such as screen time and content; mirroring Finegan and Austin's 2002 research. It was also found that while the increased challenges of technology-based games can develop academic skills such as counting, quantifying and subitizing (Clements, Sarama, & DiBiase, 2004), they may contribute to regression in social etiquette, relationship building and the ability to regulate and exhibit delayed gratification (Finegan, & Austin, 2002). Each of the last three terms is a necessary indicator of achievement for widely held expectations in the social/emotional learning domain (Heroman, 2010).


The path to DAP in technology-based learning lies in the combination of parent and teacher buy-in to the process of technology integration. As with all modalities of learning, 'technology tools' is just one category that can be highly effective when utilized appropriately. There is the other side of this coin revealing that technology devices can be extremely detrimental when misused. (Finegan, & Austin, 2002). This tells educators that best practices of setting limits on technology use such as the implementation of clear expectations with reminders and follow-through (Pianta, LaParo, Hamre, 2008) and establishing a relationship based on open communication with students and families will yield positive outcomes.

The opinion about technology, children and what is developmentally appropriate remains muddied. Perhaps the puddle is even a bit cloudier now.

References


ABCMouse Early Learning Academy. (n. d.). ABCmouse.com. Retrieved February 19th, 2020 from https//:ABCmouse.com.

Berger, K. S. (2018). The developing person through childhood. (8th ed.). New York, NY


Clements, D. H., Samara, J., & DiBiase, A. (2004). Engaging with young children in mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education. London, England: Routledge.


Finegan, C. & Austin, N. J. (2002). Developmentally Appropriate Technology for Young Children. Information Technology in Education Annual, 2002 (1), 87-102. Association for the Advancement of

Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from https//: www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/8853/


Heroman, C. (2010). Teaching Strategies GOLD: Objectives for Development and Learning: Birth through Kindergarten


National Science Foundation. (n. d.). Preschool science and math games, activities and videos. PEEP. Retrieved February 19th, 2020 from http//: peepandthebigwideworld.com/en/


Pianta, R. C. Paro, K.M., & Hambre, B. K. (2008). Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Manual, Prekindergarten. Brookes Publishing.

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