There is no question that today's kids live in a technologically driven world, and that it doesn't take long for young children to become tech savvy. In today's world when the word technology is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is a computer and the Internet. But technology also can include other devices such as cameras, video and audio recordings, overhead projectors, and iPods.
With the advancements in technology, there also comes a need for balance. Technology has a bad habit of keeping young children from experiencing outdoor play, messy art, and other important early learning processes. To keep technology in balance when it comes to early learning, you must use it as a way to supplement or extend hands-on, real-life learning. Never let it become a replacement.
What Your Child Should Know
Your child should:
- Have a basic set of skills and experiences, using a variety of technological tools
- Know that technology can be helpful in learning new things
- Know what the boundaries are for the use of technology in your home or away from home
- Know how to use technology responsibly and with care
How You Can Help
One of the first issues in promoting the basic use of technology items and setting boundaries for their use is to have access. If you do not happen to have a computer, camera, or other technological devices in your home, you'll want to find other places where you might be able to give your child opportunities to explore technology. A library or a friend's house will do. Once you have access to basic forms of technology, here are some ways you can extend (not replace) learning through its use.
- Whenever your child shows an interest in something (a book, an animal, in weather), invite him to use the Internet to research additional information. Sit with your child and use the Internet for a specific purpose. Model the use of tools such as the mouse or the keyboard and give your child the opportunity to use these tools under your watchful eye and helpful guidance.
- Invite him to take photos with a digital camera in order to make a poster, book, or slide show to tell a story about his day, a special event, or other interest he may have.
- Read and record a favorite children's book or sounds from around the house or outside to listen to on an iPod or other device. Let your child record his own voice telling a story or singing a song, then play it back for you to hear.
Remember to model and teach responsible use and care of technology and set boundaries for its use that will help your child use these devices in a balanced and constructive way.
Reflect, Revise, Revisit
As you observe your child's use of technology, consider additional ways he can be more independent with his use of it while at the same time remaining responsible and within your set rules. Remember, the goal of technology isn't to replace hands-on learning opportunities but to expand those opportunities.