Integrating Technology in Early Education: Pros and Cons

The rise of digital technology has significantly changed the lifestyle and education of young children. Due to the growing availability of smartphones, tablets, and other digital gadgets, children are now encountering technology at much earlier stages of their lives. In fact, according to eSafety research 81 percent of Australian parents say their 2 to 5 year old uses the internet.

Despite the advantages that technology presents, it is crucial for parents to grasp the possible downsides and develop strategies to manage their child’s use of technology.

This Tuesday 6th February is Safer Internet Day, a global initiative to raise awareness of online safety issues. It encourages everyone to take three simple steps when approaching safety: Connect, Reflect, Protect. Its important as parents to educate children, especially when they are using technology for the first time. At Aspire, we also recognise the benefits of digital technology, but understand there are steps to keep our children safe online too. So, what are some of the positives of integrating technology in early education?

Pros: Technology in Early Childhood

Technology can be an excellent educational tool.

Technology can be a great means for learning and exploration, providing children with access to a wealth of information and educational resources. For example, educational apps and websites can help children develop important skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.

At Aspire, we offer various incursion programs including our ELLA program, which is a digital play-based learning program run by a dedicated teacher. During this program, the children get to learn a new language using an iPad. This digital platform helps them learn words and objects in a new language which promotes literacy skills and critical thinking, and knowledge about other cultures.

Technology can make learning more fun and interactive.

Digital technology has the potential to enhance the interactive, engaging, and fun aspects of learning for young children. Educational apps, digital games, and videos offer a hands-on approach to learning, which allows children to retain this information better.

For example, at our Aspire Cranbourne West centre during group time, our children played a song on the iPad about sunscreen and were showed an interactive video of how to apply the sunscreen. This was a fun way to learn about SunSmart procedures and how to be safe in the sun before enjoying outdoor play. 

Technology can promote creativity and self-expression.

Another way that digital technology can benefit young children is by providing opportunities for creativity and self-expression. For example, children can use technology to create digital art, music, or videos, which can be a great way to build their confidence and encourage self-expression.

At Aspire Clyde North, the children recently went on an excursion to the local park and had the opportunity to use the iPad to take photos of different plants and flowers. These photos were then used as inspiration for artwork when they returned to the centre, which sparked creativity and self-expression.

Cons: Technology in Early Childhood

Although technology can have many benefits, it can also be harmful if used excessively or not monitored properly. So, what are some of the negatives of integrating technology in early childhood?

Technology can have a negative impact on a child’s development.

Research has shown that excessive screen time can negatively affect children’s attention spans, language development, and social-emotional growth. Although technology can have educational benefits, language development can be affected as it diminishes the quantity and quality of social interactions between children and their family/care givers. Overuse of technology can also decrease the amount of physical activity your child does, which can be harmful for their overall development and wellbeing. Ensure that technology doesn’t replace your child’s opportunities to ride their bicycle, kick a soccer ball, or have fun outside.

Technology can affect children’s sleep patterns.

Additionally, some studies have suggested a link between screen time and disrupted sleep patterns, which can have negative consequences for children’s physical and mental health. Although it may not affect every child, using electronic screens right before bedtime can cause sleep disruption, due to the exposure of bright light. Its important for parents to monitor their child’s usage of technology, especially closer to bedtime.

Technology can provide content that may be inappropriate.

With so much information accessible on the internet, it can be difficult for parents to monitor what their children are exposed to, including inappropriate or harmful content. Although they aren’t at the age of having a social media profile themselves, they are still at risk of seeing inappropriate content that they may accidently click on or see advertisements that randomly pop up.

So, what are some strategies you can implement to keep your child safe when using technology?

Strategies to help your child use technology in a healthy way

1. Set clear rules and boundaries.

It’s important to set clear rules and boundaries around technology and internet usage at home, so your child is using it in a healthy way. For example, you may set rules of no technology devices at mealtimes or an hour before bedtime. The types of boundaries will depend on the individual needs of your child and your family, but having these in place will ensure technology is not being overused.

2. Limit screen time to a certain amount per day.

When your child is using digital technology, its important to limit their screen time by implementing short screen time sessions and taking regular breaks. You could use a timer to set certain breaks or have dedicated hours in the day where screen time is allowed. Try to limit sitting down time as much as possible and encourage physical activity and spending time in nature instead.

3. Set appropriate age limits for certain types of content.

Good-quality media can support your child’s learning and interests, however its important that appropriate age limits are set for different types of content. There are many government resources that can help you make informed decisions about your family’s entertainment choices. The Australian Classification website can give you advice on age ratings for certain apps and games your child may use, which will help you make an informed decision about what content is age appropriate.

4. Monitor the types of websites your child is accessing.

It may be fine for your child to play a puzzle app or watch a video about counting numbers, but it’s important to monitor the types of websites or apps your child uses so they aren’t accessing something they shouldn’t be. With Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, you can block or limit specific apps and features on your child’s device. If you have an Apple iPhone or iPad, you can restrict the settings for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy, so your child can’t view certain media.

Having these strategies in place will help to keep your child safe online, while ensuring they still benefit from the use of digital technology. To learn more about online safety, visit the website here.

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