Is technology a good choice for young children? Modern technology is very powerful because it relies on one of our strongest genetic biases – the preference to see visually presented information. Human brains have a strong bias for visual information. The visual oriented nature of television, movies, videos and many computer programs attracts and keeps the attention of young children. Children who spend hours in front of the television do not develop other perceptions. Interactive technologies are the best for young children because they allow them to explore their curiosity and problem solving skills.
The teacher’s role in making informed decisions about technology use is crucial in order to reap the potential benefits. The process of choosing the right software is similar to selecting the right books for a classroom. Computers can be used by teachers to help them develop new teaching and learning strategies. Computers are intrinsically appealing to young children. Children are attracted to the sound and graphics. The right software can engage children in creative play and mastery learning. It also helps them to solve problems and have fun. The pace and the action are controlled by children. Children can do the same activity or process as many times as they want and try out different variations. They can share their creations and collaborate on decisions. As she grows, well-designed early childhood software allows her to discover new challenges and expands in dimension. The software provides a variety of visual and verbal prompts that allow the child to expand her play possibilities and options while still allowing for full control. The software offers a vast array of information, sounds and images that can be used by children of all ages. Even children as young at three and four years old can use software to make them age-appropriate. This proves that technology can improve a child’s social and cognitive abilities. It opens up a window into a child’s mind.
Each classroom has its own set of guiding principles, values, themes, and activities. Early childhood educators must promote equal access to technology for all children, their families and caregivers. Modern technology is very powerful because it relies on one of our most powerful biases. This is a problem because many modern technologies are passive. They do not offer children the essential emotional, cognitive, and physical experiences that they need when they are young.
Technology is often used to replace human interaction, but this should not be the case. Research has advanced beyond asking simple questions about technology in the past decade. Children as young as three years old are comfortable with computers and feel confident using them. They are able to turn the computer on and follow visual directions. They seem to find it easy to type on the keyboard. In fact, they view it as a source of pride. Even children with disabilities, such as physical or emotional, can now use computers with ease thanks to technological advances. Computers can not only improve their mobility and control but also help to boost self-esteem.
Technology’s exclusive value is now in doubt. Research has shown that children are more interested in what is tangible than what is symbolic. Computer representations can be more easily managed, flexible, and adaptable. There are many programs that can provide multimedia presentations of content to help children with information processing problems. This allows them to better understand the material and make decisions. There are many good programs that focus on reading or mathematics. These programs are engaging and encourage children to learn math skills. It is much easier to look at information in a fun way than a page with a lot of numbers that you need to add up.
We are always on the lookout for the magic wand to solve all of our problems. Technology is the magic wand of our times. Technology not only improves academic skills and reduces dropout rates, but it also decreases the racial disparity in academic performance. However, computers may be used to support a national trend towards earlier and better academic skill acquisition and ignore other vital developmental needs. The fear is that technology will not be used to meet developmental needs. This includes physical play, exploration of the community, and the natural world; art, music, and dance; and learning specific social skills, moral values, as well as experiencing diversity in a variety of ways.