Children are growing up in a digital world, so technology is embedded in their lives. Toy laptops, mobile phones and keyboards are available for children to explore and incorporate into their play. As technology for young children proliferates, educators and parents wonder if, when, and how to use it appropriately to support early development.
The most effective use of technology in an early childhood setting involves the application of tools and materials to enhance children’s learning and development, interactions, communication, and collaboration. As technology increasingly finds its way into mainstream culture, the types and uses of technology in early childhood programs have also expanded dramatically to include computers, tablets, e-books, mobile devices, handheld gaming devices, digital cameras and video camcorders, electronic toys, multimedia players for music and videos, digital audio recorders, interactive whiteboards, software applications, the Internet, streaming media, and more.
Children need to understand when these technologies are used and for what purposes, so using them together, talking about what you are doing, answering questions and following your child’s interests will support their understanding. Many technologies are really good to work with together: taking photographs together, finding websites on a laptop, experimenting with electronic keyboards, trying out the functions on mobile phones can be fun activities that give children a sense of the possibilities of the media as well as an introduction to the competencies they will need to develop as citizens of the 21st century.
In small groups, discuss the earliest memory you have of using digital technology in your own work or school setting. Technology is often used in families for the opportunities it offers for enhanced communication. Children see phones used by people around them, on TV programmes and in photos. Many children have toy mobiles or pick up adults’ phones to engage in role-play. You’ll probably recognise your tone of voice and body language in these imaginary conversations .