Monday, December 30, 2013

Technology and Toddlers

     So how much technology is too much technology when we are talking about the preschool and early childhood set?  While we as adults are tethered to our devices and most of the adolescents we know are socially connected 24/7, when it comes to our youngest learners, we encounter push back about screen-time from a large segment of early childhood educators, citing developmentally appropriate practices and the need to foster play, social interaction and emotional development.  Can technology do the same thing (or better) than blocks, the kitchen center, or the dramatic play center?
     When you watch the videos on YouTube of babies trying to swipe a magazine with their fingers, or toddlers who can unlock their parent's iPhone to watch videos, you have to wonder, should we be leveraging and fostering technology use that seems so innate with these young kids or should we maybe just bury our heads in the sand and maybe all this will just go away?
     As a boomer who was blown way when we got our first Pong videogame, I never could have envisioned the things that are now possible as a result of technology innovations.  What the future holds, who knows?  One thing we can be sure of, technology will become more ubiquitous and not something you do, but rather something you are.  No, I'm not talking about implanted chips (although that is already happening), I'm talking about one's digital footprint- how we identify ourselves and more importantly how we connect and collaborate with others.   Sounds like social interaction and play to me, no? So, maybe we just need to rethink how we should be using technology with our youngest learners recognizing that we have an obligation to be laying the groundwork for what they will build on in the future.
     So the reason for this post - I'm looking for folks out there who are using technology with young children in innovative ways.  Do you have some unique ways you are developing parallel and collaborative play, fostering social interaction and collaboration skills through VOIP, building background through virtual field trips, etc. I am doing a presentation in Chicago at the end of January and would love to be able to share some stories from the field.  Thanks in advance for any support you provide and feel free to email me at

1 comment:

  1. Hi Harry, here is Australia we are using the TOBY Playpad app for early intervention with young children with autism. It was developed by therapists and has completed clinical trials supported by two local universities. As a Speech Language Pathologist I have found it invaluable for support parents to learn how to teach early intervention goals. I think the important issue here is that there are on ipad and off ipad tasks. This app was designed to teach parents how to teach early skills in natural settings - the iPad app is simply a teaching tool.
    Personally, I am very concerned about how we are using iPads in early childhood. I see iPads full of free "educational" apps which are then given to the child to use without adult supervision and little thought going in to choosing apps.
    I am often asked "Which is the best app for my 3 year old" to which I answer "Tell me about your child, his strengths and what you would like to teach him". Then we can decide whether or not an iPad is the best resource for the child.