Young children and technology

Undoubtedly, technology is certainly a feature of life for all ages, ranging from very young children to those who have more recently become familiar with available various devices, programs and apps.

There is no doubt that young children can find their way around technology very readily and as to be expected, love the fast pace of delivery, colour, sound, games and movies.

Born into an entirely different period of change through the immense use of technology and the ever galloping advancements, it cannot be ignored nor avoided.  Young children are certainly going to be using it in multiple and ever-changing ways.

A Professional Development I attended this year, led by eight extremely well qualified presenters – in various professions – spoke with conviction about the fact that children will use technology but also, that they will definitely be impacted by what they see on various devices.

The advice for parents, in particular, was practical, sensible and based on evidence sought from many avenues.

Please see a summary of points below.

Practical advice for parents raising children in the digital age

Each of the eight speakers spoke with conviction about the agreed ways in which young children should be guided when using technology.

  • Screen time should be limited.
  • Parents must monitor the style and type of content of material.
  • Screens should not be in bedrooms and should be in family areas – apart from the supervision required; screens interrupt sleep cycles significantly.
  • Devices should always be switched off during meals and communication times with families. Emphasis was placed on the need for adults to role model effective social habits (and not bring devices to the family meal table/restaurant etc). Children will definitely be influenced by poor habits around them.
  • Activity and outdoor play must be emphasised and encouraged.
  • Games on devices are seen as being addictive. As yet, no long term research is available, but concerns about addiction are rising. Limiting time for use of devices and constantly changing the Apps available are viewed as eminently sensible.
Research (to date) from the American Academy of Paediatrics

Advice regarding age and stage and the use of devices was certainly interesting and helpful.

The advice is as follows:

Children younger than 18 months
  • Use of screen time to be avoided – except for Skype opportunities to connect with friend/ relatives when appropriate.
Children aged 2-4
  • Adults to choose screen options for children carefully and to strictly limit the time using the device each day.
Children aged 5-8
  • Limit use to one hour per day
  • Vary device used for screen time eg. television, iPad, computer, iPhone.
Children aged 8-12
  • Limit all screen time to 2-hours per day – over a period of time.
  • Exercise and outdoor play and other activities to be definite expectations. ‘Circuit breakers’ were emphasised as holding high importance and more.
Mrs Alana Moor, Head of ELC and Junior School
Ladybug, Ladybug

During a recent Morning Meeting, Charlotte expressed excitedly that she had made a discovery in nature. She shared that she had found ladybugs in the garden and was fascinated by the fact that they were yellow and orange in colour, rather than the commonly depicted red and black variety. Charlotte’s curiosity sparked an inquisitive conversation in the Wattle Room. The children decided to use the classroom iPad to conduct further investigation. Since this initial discussion, the children have created representational drawings of ladybugs, shared their thoughts with one another and have come together to learn a song entitled Ladybug, Ladybug through musical play. The children have also been engaging in tactile learning experiences by creating representations of ladybugs through the language of clay sculpture. The Wattle Room children are now planning to search for ladybugs in the outdoor learning environment, as they have decided that ‘nature is giving us a clue that spring is here’. What else will we find in nature as spring has sprung?

Miss Kristina Schrader,Wattle Room Teacher