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Technology for Young Children... A Serious Responsibility

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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You can't deny it. Technology is part of life in our society... more so every day. It changes the way we communicate, socialize, conduct business, and handle daily tasks. Children need to be prepared to function in this type of society. We ease them into it with the software we choose and the time we provide for them on computers and other devices.

By the time we get a child in our early childhood classroom, he may already have logged thousands of hours of screen time. He may have started accumulating these hours as an infant, with baby videos and TV. Mom may have found it easier to give him her phone with a movie, than interacting with him in the car or a restaurant. Popping in a DVD while making dinner worked really well, and soon it expanded to time after dinner. He also had some games to play, too. Soon, it would easier to do this just about any time or most of the time… and the child probably learned just the right buttons to push (pun intended) to get the devices turned on. Screen activities were now part of his life and had begun to overshadow other activities, like playtime with Mommy and Daddy or other children, and playing outside. He wasn’t missing these other things and was now actively preferring a screen.

two kids on pad

We all know these children, I’m sure. It could be a relative or neighbor’s child, or maybe a child in your classroom. A classic example was last fall, at my neighbor’s house. It was her four-year-old son’s birthday party. The house and yard were filled with cousins and children from his preschool. There were presents to open and birthday candles to blow out. But the birthday boy spent the entire afternoon alone, up in his room, playing a new video game his uncle gave him that morning. Nothing or no one could coax him down to his own birthday party. In fact, any suggestion to do so prompted screams of protest.


This will be difficult to change for this child and those like him. It will be withdrawal, in a sense, and painful for all involved. And unnecessary. As we collaborate with families in our programs, information about the appropriate use of technology by young children should be made available to parents, so they can make good choices from the very beginning.

3 kids on phones

As professionals in early childhood, we know that technology cannot substitute for hands-on experiences with real things and face time with real people, because this is the way children learn. So, we must be vigilant. Technology is a wonderful tool and must be used as such, and in developmentally appropriate ways. It is not a curriculum or a caregiver. Knowing the difference is our responsibility. 

child and mom on floor interacting

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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

Debra is active in her community, supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis. Debra is a contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 6 and Radley, almost 3.

Debra has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

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Guest Tuesday, 25 October 2016