written by Holly Burns, Preschool Programs Coordinator

Wow! I never thought I would be writing a blog post about technology for early education! But never say never! As we all know technology is not going away. Early education experts are learning how iPads and tablets can be used with young children. The key is that it should not be seen just an entertainment device, but rather, a tool that can be used with young children to interact, learn, and create. The applications for iPads and touchscreens are endless. But like every other thing we use with our kids (books, toys, TV selections) some are good and some are junk.

What I am talking about is using technology in a more engaging and meaningful way. That means developmentally appropriate applications and a child working with an adult who is interacting with them.  A great article on the use of technology for early education is the position statement put out by NEAYC and The Fred Rogers Center.

  1. All screen time is NOT created equalipad tablet computer
  2. We need to promote “digital citizenship” which means teaching respect, boundaries and ethics in respect to the equipment and the access
  3. Limits are important. Work with teachers or care providers to coordinate limits on a child’s usage.  For example, if your five-year-old has already spent one to two hours on a computer or iPad at school, you may want to not allow any more time doing that at home.
  4. Technology is an effective learning tool for young children when used correctly.

I am a big advocate for “no screen time” before the age of two, and limiting screen time as appropriate for ages two and up. But the type of screen time that we need to strictly limit refers to “passive, non-interactive” screen time. You can recognize this when you see your kid in a trance just staring straight ahead like a zombie!

Some of my favorites are apps are created by Alligator, ABC Mouse, and Peekaboo. My all-time favorite app is called Lenord, Furry Friend. I do not like it so much for the educational component, but because it is so fun and engaging for younger children. Many of these apps are free or have a minimal charges. I highly recommend “We Want Apps”, which suggests suitable apps and will send you emails for free apps.

Just like everything else you decide as a parent, use iPads and touchscreens with common sense and arm yourself with good information.  I am not suggesting you increase screen time with your young child, but I am saying that if you are selective and mindful of your choices, there are a lot of cool learning adventures to be had!