Technology is an integral part of modern life. Almost every family has some type of device that they use for information and entertainment. This situation has led to children starting to use gadgets such as phones and tablets from a very young age. Such use has brought a number of concerns from parents and the scientific community. However, the concerns may be unfounded because, through the monitoring of toddlers, their use of technology may bring positive educational outcomes, additional parent-child bonding opportunities, and easier adaptation of the child to computer use. This paper will examine the various positive aspects of technology use for children while addressing the most common positions against the practice.
The spread of technology during the last decade is undeniable. Studies on the technology used by young children have recorded a sharp increase in 2013, and its spread has continued since. In 2013, three out of four of all children had access to mobile devices at home, which they used up to fifteen minutes a day. Almost forty percent of the examined children under the age of two have already used a mobile device, and the daily time of children using mobile technology has risen dramatically. Since then, the numbers have only grown. This trend can be explained by the gadgets becoming more affordable and older models being given to children as communication and education devices (“Zero to Eight,” 2013). However, this should not be seen as a cause for concern because this technology can be used by parents to help the child learn new information. Children are often more responsive to interactive media, rather than written or spoken on so the mobile device market has become a source of many educational programs that engage the child through certain interactions that they can do while learning.
To increase the chances of information retention, parents should be involved in this process. By going through the program with their children, parents become able to explain better the information presented in the program, as well as evaluate its authenticity. While this is not recommended for children below the age of two, it may be a useful tool for education of slightly older toddlers (Radesky, Schumacher, & Zuckerman, 2015). The most common argument against such interaction is that the programs may be ineffective at delivering the information because the enhanced presentation of the programs may distract the child from processing the educational information provided in them. However, a study on this type of technology use has shown that the level of information retention is tied to the program itself, and even in the worst cases, it only has a slightly negative effect on information retention (Thompson, 2013).
Another positive aspect that comes from children using technology is the opportunity of parent-child bonding that technology provides. Bonding is a highly valuable practice for both children and adults. When spending time with their child, parents gain a better level of understanding of children’s behavior. For children, it creates positive associations with their parents and can inspire them for further learning. While using technology together, a parent can show the child media that they used to enjoy when they were children, or perhaps tell them about their experiences. A report conducted by the European Commission from 2015 on the use of digital technology by young children has confirmed that technology allows for the creation of stronger inter-generational bonds. These bonds included not the only connection between the parent and their child, but also grandparent-grandchild connections (Chaudron, 2015). It may seem that technology only creates a barrier between the older and younger generations, but studies show that with proper use, it can strengthen these relationships.
Technology use is also becoming more common in professional education. Younger children, in some cases, may be given specialized versions of common gadgets to have a more attractive and interactive form of school material. Teachers also see electronic tests as easier to grade and analyze due to the possibility of automation. By using technology at a young age, children are more likely to be ready for their first school experiences with such systems. The touchscreen interfaces that most gadgets utilize are highly intuitive, and even small children can understand how to use them after some practice.
However, more complex functions such as typing or drawing may need an additional explanation because they utilize arbitrary commands such as the use of the “shift” button to produce capital letters. If a child is prepared to use them before starting school, they are likely to more effectively utilize the tools given to them (Blackwell, Lauricella, Wartella, Robb, & Schomburg, 2013). However, the use of these tools should be monitored by the parent. One of the arguments against technology is that children may become addicted to using it for entertainment and stop socializing with their peers. This can be avoided if parents have a strict control over technology during the early ages of the child. It allows parents to have full control over what the child sees and learns in those years.
Technology is unavoidable in the modern society. Its presence in almost every family made children’s use of technology a concern for many parents. However, it has shown to be a powerful tool for education, inter-generational bonding, and adaptation to modern schooling practices. This is why further research into its benefits should be conducted.
Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., Wartella, E., Robb, M., & Schomburg, R. (2013). Adoption and use of technology in early education: The interplay of extrinsic barriers and teacher attitudes. Computers & Education, 69, 310–319. Web.
Chaudron, S. (2015). Young Children (0-8) and digital technology: A qualitative exploratory study across seven countries. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Web.
Radesky, J. S., Schumacher, J., & Zuckerman, B. (2015). Mobile and interactive media use by young children: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown. Pediatrics, 135(1), 1–3. Web.
Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 65, 12–33. Web.
Zero to eight: Children’s media use in America 2013 (2013). Web.