Learning Technologies can bring many benefits to the early years of education. Used purposefully, these tools give our young learners new means of self-expression and ways to explore and make sense of the world around them. That’s not to say that by providing technology to students our work as educators or families is done. Teaching and guiding appropriate use is still essential and requires constant work and reflection to ensure that children use the technology appropriately and in ways that enrich their learning and leisure experiences.
In the second episode of the St Peter’s College podcast series on technology use by children and young people, I spoke with a number of staff from our Early Learning Centre and Junior School to explore what the use of technology for learning looks like in the earliest years of education. I also spoke with Kirsty Jackman, School Counsellor, to explore ways for parents to start to open up conversations with children and young people about the use of technology at home, and we discussed ideas on how to manage technology use by young children.
To accompany the information shared in the podcast episode, here are some summary points:
Be actively present
By playing or viewing with your child, you can ensure that content is appropriate and models good use of technology. This also allows you to turn solitary play into a social, relationship-building experience which lays the foundations for open dialogue about technology use and digital citizenship.
Be informed about the content that your child is accessing
The website commonsensemedia.org has excellent reviews of a vast range of apps and other digital content which can be helpful when deciding what is appropriate, although viewing first-hand is always recommended. Being aware of elements such as micro-transactions or messaging is important when filtering content for young children (and indeed older ones) who are not yet able to think critically about the content they are accessing.
Support your child in transitioning from a technology activity
For younger children who are still building the skill of self-regulation, being asked to stop abruptly in the middle of a game, episode or activity can be challenging. A five-minute warning and support in transitioning to a different fun or interesting activity will help them to build their ability to cope with change.
Be clear and consistent with rules
A simple family technology plan with clear, consistent rules can help to minimise struggles around technology. When every member of the family has their own set of rules to follow, this helps children to develop healthy and positive habits and to understand that they aren’t being singled out.
Avoid using screen time as a reward
It’s all too easy to use extra screen time as a reward or remove it as a sanction. This can reinforce technology as a high-value commodity, which can lead to less desirable behaviours.
If you have feedback on the podcast, or if you would like to suggest a focus for a future episode, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Click here to listen to the podcast episode in your browser
Click here to listen via Apple Podcasts
Director of Digital Innovation