What part of everyday life has technology not immersed itself in? We use it to get to and from our destinations, to heat up our food,, and to stay-up-to-date on current events. We would be hard-pressed to find an area of life not in some-way directly impacted by technology. Since the inception of the calculator, technology has been slowly creeping into early childhood education classroom, causing quite the controversy.
The role technology should play in the early childhood education classroom is a hotly debated subject among researchers, childhood education advocates, and teachers. This post will seek to lay out both sides of the argument, providing the reader with a comprehensive guide to the cases for and against the incorporation of technology in the birth to five classroom.
In favor of technology in the classroom:
- Once past the age of three, computers and handheld technology devices (ipad, tablet, etc.) are developmentally appropriate if used in the right context. The “right context” for using technology would be defined as “in a manner that takes into consideration where the child is developmentally, if the activity is culturally appropriate, and if it engages the child.” Under the age of 3, children generally do not have the abilities to use technology in an appropriate and meaningful way.
- The world’s technology is becoming increasingly more complex: self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, robots, etc. To prepare children for the technological economy, it’s essential that they begin learning how to use technology at a young age.
- Technology offers children the opportunity to experience world-class software, programs, and applications specifically designed to help them learn a variety of skills from literacy to memorizing shapes and colors.
- Technology offers the opportunity for individualized learning. Children develop at different rates, and therefore it is essential that programming matches their developmental needs. Technology is effective at matching the needs of varied developmental levels, and can adjust as a child continues on their developmental track.
In favor of limited Technology usage in the classroom:
- Technology is always present. Is it necessary that children be exposed to it in the classroom? Some argue that the classroom should serve as a respite from the onslaught of technology.
- According a 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study, 50 percent of houses have the TV on all day, and by elementary school children are using technology 7.5 hours per day. In order to effectively develop other skills such as communication and self-regulation, it makes sense to limit tech usage.
- When technology is relied upon too heavily, it can hinder the development of a child’s imagination because they begin to rely on the technology for their stimulation.
- “ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, developmental delays, unintelligible speech, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate.” (Huffpost).
- Essential to child development, specifically under the age of two is the child-caretaker relationship. Technology takes away from developing that relationship, and it is detrimental to a child’s development.
- Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, has argued that children are suffering from a “nature-deficit disorder.” Specifically, Louv thinks that children are not spending enough time immersed in the natural world. An over-reliance on technology often comes at the expense of outdoor time, leading to a host of issues, which can be read about here. Richard’s argument is a s follows: “the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
In conclusion it’s important to mention that neither those in favor of increased use of technology in the classroom and those against it have a monopoly on truth. Both sides have merits to their arguments. One thing is certain, technology in the classroom is a game changer, and it is essential that parents and educators are intentional in how they incorporate into the lives of children.
The next post will focus on how Discovery Days/Kids Connection Childcare centers incorporate technology into the classroom in a developmentally appropriate way, and what that looks like on a daily basis.