NAEYC on Technology

NAEYC on Technology

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a nonprofit professional organization whose main goal is to promote early childhood education among children ranging from birth to about 8 years of age. NAEYC promotes early childhood education through development of education initiatives and public policy. NAEYC maintains a professional website that provides the public with critical information about early childhood programs for their children. With regard to technology, NAEYC aims at promoting technology-based learning in early childhood education. The organization’s statement on technology holds that technology should be integrated in early childhood education as a way of maximizing connections between learners (children) and parents, assessing the progress of children, and in supporting the learning process. This paper provides support on NAEYC’s position concerning the integration of technology in early childhood education.

In the modern period, technology has become an integral aspect in not only higher education, but also in early childhood education. Children are currently growing up in an environment shaped by new technologies, whether at schools, offices, or even at homes (“NAEYC & FRC,” 2012). When technology is applied in the right manner, it may have positive impacts in early childhood education. Shared experiences can promote children’s learning and development, while also improving their relationships with peers and adults. A number of technology tools that may be appropriate in education include computers, tablets, music players, electronic toys, projectors, audio recorders, microscopes, and other digital tools common in learning (“NAEYC & FRC,” 2012). These technology tools have changed the way teachers apply learning materials in the teaching-learning process in the classrooms. The proliferation of digital devices in the modern world means that children are spending more time engaged with these devices. In order to make learning meaningful and engaging to them, there is need to integrate technology in the teaching-learning process.

Available research indicates that technology is a critical component to the modern-day learning environment. Liang, Hsu, Huang, and Chen (2012) conduct an investigation to examine the influence of learning environment in stimulating learner imagination. The authors examine the role of digital technology in various aspects on people’s lives. Four factors are examined and their influence to the learning environment. These include human aggregate, physical component, social climate, and organizational measure. In the recent past, governments across the world have launched e-learning initiatives meant to help improve the education standards. The findings indicate that the social aspect has the greatest influence in stimulating the learner’s imagination (Liang et al., 2012). Technology enhances the social aspect of learning by improving social interactions or connectivity among individuals. There is a strong need for individuals to embrace modern technology through learning. This calls for the need to integrate digital technology tools in the modern education pedagogy to enable people to acquire new skills in use of digital technology.

A section of policymakers in the education sector has raised concerns about the appropriate age for introducing children to the digital media. Some individuals believe that it may be counterproductive to introduce screen media to children in early childhood learning programs. NAEYC holds that infants in early childhood education programs should not be allowed screen time as this might negatively affect their health as well as intellectual development. An organization such as the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued general guidelines regarding infants and screen time. The organization recommends that children under the age of 2 should not be exposed to screens, while those above the age of 2 should only be exposed for a duration of less than 2 hours a day (Birch, Parker, & Burns, 2011). On the other hand, the Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy recommends that preschoolers should enjoy limited screen time of less than 30 minutes per day. The screens in this case include various types of digital tools such as television, digital media, videos, cell phones, computers, and others. Limiting screen time contributes to reduce the risk of developing early childhood obesity.

Although much of the available literature suggests that technology is an invaluable resource to children’s learning process, few researches provide contradictory findings. A number of studies document the negative impacts of technology to children. Carson and Janssen (2012) examine the effects of excessive screen time and the factors contributing to this among children between birth and 5 years. The findings indicate that factors within the home environment such as parents’ cognitive levels have a significant impact on the level of screen time among their children. Of particular interest, excessive screen time is associated with socialization problems, where children acquire sedentary behavior. Carson and Janssen (2012) assert that excessive screen time is associated with a host of other negative impacts on children, such as aggressive behavior, obesity, and may hinder language and cognitive development. As such, there is need for controlled integration of various technology tools in the early childhood learning process.

The issue concerning effectiveness of screen media is insofar inconclusive basing on the available research. A part of the available research indicates that screen media is not harmful to children, and may on the other hand improve their intellectual and cognitive development. This research indicates that screen media that is integrated carefully into the learning process by the teacher as a guide may actually serve as an effective teaching aid. As such, screen media may serve as a powerful tool in the learning process. According to NAEYC and FRC (2012), the type of content in the digital tool is the most significant in determining its effectiveness, rather than the manner in which presentation occurs. In other words, children are likely to derive some educational value from various digital tools such as websites, television, computers, radio and others, as long as content is relevant to their educational level.

The amount of time that children dedicate towards technology tools is critical in determining the influence of these digital devices. Although this time must be taken into account while assessing the impact of the particular technology, the teacher plays a significant role in ensuring that learners use various tools in the right way. The teacher determines the relevance content and establishes the best teaching strategies to guide learners. According to the NAEYC and FRC (2012), media and technology can only be impactful when applied appropriately in early childhood learning. Teachers should not apply technology for activities that are inappropriate for children, for instance, in teaching content that is beyond the level of children. Moreover, technology should not replace beneficial activities for children such as playtime, interaction with peers and adults, or their time to interact with other children. Teachers must ensure that technology tools chosen suit the developmental level of learners and relate to content.

Today, children are born in a technologically advanced world. They learn to operate a number of gadgets from home at a tender age. As such, their experiences in the application of modern technology are part of what they go through on daily basis. It is thus important for the education system to integrate technology as part of their learning process. Integrating technology in the children learning process makes education more real and reflecting the current-day developmental aspects of the modern society. Digital technologies have a strong impact in the lives of people, especially with regard to the social and physical environment surrounding children. Digital technology significantly touches on the lives of caregivers, family members and educators involved in early childhood education. Digital technology is thus an important aspect in early childhood education and in enhancing content delivery in the modern world.

Vast volumes of available literature indicate that digital technologies have the impact of developing increased learning opportunities in early childhood education. For instance, digital technologies influence children’s areas of learning, communication, social interactions, and expansion of knowledge areas. Nives, Gordana, and Mirjana (2016) propound the idea that much of the negative aspects about digital technologies are mere stereotypes propagated by the mass media. The media have played a critical role in spreading negative stereotypes about digital technologies in early childhood education. Reports by the mass media claim that when children are exposed to digital technologies such as computers and tablets, they may develop a habit of playing violent computer games, leading to development of antisocial behaviors. Concerns about the use of digital technologies in early childhood education revolve around the impacts on social, emotional, and cognitive development (Nives, Gordana, & Mirjana, 2016). However, it is worth noting that children are less likely to experience such impacts since educators control the type of content available to them on the digital learning devices.

The benefits of digital technologies to young children are immense. First, digital technologies enable young children to improve their cognitive abilities. For instance, young children are able to visualize complex concepts with the help of digital technologies (Nives, Gordana, & Mirjana, 2016). This is especially when they utilize visual media such as screens. Another key benefit is that digital technologies provide children with a platform in which they can learn through practical action. These benefits point towards the need to integrate digital technologies to the early childhood curriculum. Participation of parents in the learning process is critical for achievement of all educational goals and outcomes. When integrating digital technologies in the learning process, educators must ensure that applications are relevant and devoid of negative aspects such as racial discrimination, violence, and sexually explicit content. It is important to ensure that digital technologies are seamlessly integrated with other activities in order to ensure that children experience holistic learning.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) asserts that application of technology in early childhood education is imperative in the modern world. Today, children are born in an environment where most individuals depend on digital technologies in their daily life. Children are exposed to modern technologies at an early age, right from home environment to schools. It is important that digital technologies be integrated in early childhood education. Nonetheless, there is need for educators to control the manner in which children use these technologies, and the time they spend on various digital devices. This research indicates that children who spend a lot of time on digital devices such as computers, tablets and others may be at risk of developing obesity and other cognitive impairments.

References

Birch, L.L, L. Parker, & Burns, A. (eds). (2011). Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies.    Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved from             https://ihcw.aap.org/Documents/POPOT/IOM_ObesityPrevention.pdf

Carson, V., & Janssen, I. (2012). Associations between factors within the home setting and          screen time among children aged 0-5 years: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health,          12(3): 539-570.
DOI: 
10.1186/1471-2458-12-539

Liang, C., Hsu, Y., Huang, Y., & Chen, S. (2012). How learning environments can stimulate        student imagination. The Turkish Journal of Educational Technology, 11(4): 1-10.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), & Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media (FRC). (2012). Technology and interactive media as tools in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Retrieved        from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PS_technology_WEB2.pdf

Nives, M. P., Gordana, L., & Mirjana, S. (2016). Investigating parents’ attitudes towards digital   technology use in early childhood: a case study from Croatia. Informatics in Education,           15(1): 127 -146.

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