Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Children and Technology

One of the most common enquiries I've had over the last year or so deals with the issue of children and screen time - what impact does spending prolonged time in front of a TV / laptop / tablet have on a child? There's certainly a vigorous debate taking place at the moment - some claim that too much exposure at an early age can have a detrimental effect on a child's development, while others argue that children should be enabled to acquire ICT skills at an early age to equip them for the world which they are now growing up in. And of course, there are also issues to consider relating to older children - do violent computer games have an impact on their behaviour? How safe are they in their online interactions?

Today's post has been inspired by a new report from Ofcom - Digital Day 2014 reports on a project which assessed how children's use of media differs to their parents, and found that children are more likely to watch online content that television. In fact, Ofcom have been responsible for a number of reports this year - Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes is a hugely detailed report which examines media and computer use among 3-15 year olds, while the Ofcom Report on Internet Safety Measures and Children's Online Behaviour: Issues of Risk and Trust both look at issues surrounding online safety and parental supervision.

Another organisation who have produced multiple reports about children and ICT are EU Kids Online. In July of this year they published Net Children Go Mobile, which explores how children and young people make use of the internet and mobile technologies in their daily lives. EU Kids Online were also behind the 2013 report entitled Zero to Eight: Young Children and their Internet Use, and a recent report which made policy recommendations to "make the internet a better and safer place for children."

If you're an early years practitioner, you might be wondering how all this discussion relates to your working role, in which case you could be interested in a 2011 CfBT publication entitled Engaging Early Years Foundation Stage Children in Computer-Based Play. There are also a number of freely available journal articles of relevance: you could try looking at Playful and Creative ICT Pedagogical Framing: a Nursery School Case Study, or Computer Use by Preschool Children: Rethinking Practice as Digital Natives Come to Preschool (scroll down to Page 37!). Also available are Seven Myths about Young Children and Technology, and Can We Let Computers Change Practice? Educators' Interpretations of Preschool Tradition, though you'll need to create a free account with the ResearchGate site to view the full text of that last one.

One area that has attracted particular attention is how technology impacts on children's literacy skills. For a useful overview of this topic, you could try reading a 2010 article entitled Technology and Literacy in Early Childhood Educational Settings: a Review of Research. More recently, the National Literacy Trust has published two reports on Children's Use of Technology in the Early Years, one of which covers parents' perspectives, while the other one examines practitioner perspectives.

Still not had enough? Some further reports from recent years are listed below:
I'm sure some site visitors will know of further useful resources in this area, in which case you could share them with other readers by leaving a comment on this post. Below is a thought-provoking clip from YouTube which went viral in 2011; it's called A Magazine is an iPad that Doesn't Work.

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