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Technology in early childhood

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Nov 10, 2017


Information technology is integrated into all aspects of the modern lifestyle. In this Issue File, the term technology refers to screen time which includes computers, tablets, phones and television. Despite its relatively recent inception, its use has become the cultural norm. This begs the question of how this activity affects society, especially children. Studies have concluded that the quantity and quality of screen time play a major role in shaping the social, emotional, and STEM learning experiences for children. However, excess screen time for children (aged 0-12) time is associated with higher levels of sedentary behaviour, which has been correlated to lack of sleep and increased levels of obesity. Children may also experience emotional symptoms such as loneliness, sadness, stress, isolation, and/or aggressiveness when screen time exceeds the recommended amounts.

Defining quantity and quality is imperative to accessing the benefits of using technology with children. The guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend the quantity of programming and the environment in which its consumed in their updated recommendations. Children under 18 months should avoid screen time, with exception of video chatting. Parents of children 18-24 months who want to introduce technology should choose high quality programming—to be defined later, and parents should co-view to help them children understand content. The AAP also recommends for children ages 2-5 years, screen time should be limited to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming. For children 6 years and older there is no time limit, however they must leave time for ‘healthy behaviours’. Quality programming here is defined as intentional and developmentally appropriate.

The National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) refers to specific principles for using technology in an early learning setting, which are divided into two categories; interactive and non-interactive media. Interactive media refers to content designed to facilitate active and creative use. Non-interactive media is passive, such as DVDs and videos. NAEYC highlights that technology and its application should be highly scrutinized for quality, which is defined above, and that benefits of technology in learning are facilitated through the interactions facilitated by the educator, parent or other guiding person. 

Recommendations for media access and use

AAP guideline for media consumption
The American Association of Pediatrics set new recommendations on October 21, 2017. These new guidelines for consumption and use reflect expectations of children’s access to media and current research.
NAEYC position statement
The National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) issued a position paper in which it defines the issues, benefits, and drawbacks of technology. The NAEYC states the differences in content and device quality and how the educator can enhance learning.
ESRB media ratings
The regulating body, Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), released a tool for parents and educators to explore the ratings of games and their justification for said ratings. A description of the ratings (intended audience), content descriptors (what content may be questionable), and interactive elements and permissions (location, user interaction, digital purchases, unrestricted internet use). The ESRB provides a search tool for parents to search specific games and is located at the right of the page for parents to search games and apps to provide the aforementioned information.
Mayo Clinic guidelines of use
The Mayo Clinic provides a brief overview of technology, potential benefits, drawbacks, and provides solutions aimed at parents for managing behaviours.

Evaluative and behavioural tools for using technology with children

NAEYC app evaluation tips
The National Association for Education of Young Children provides a framework for parents and educators to evaluate apps to determine if they are educational and developmentally appropriate. It highlights that apps must encourage active learning, engagement in the learning process, meaningful learning, and social interaction. It highlights that not all apps are educational and developers can use these principles to guide their design.
The Fred Rogers Centre programming checklist
The Fred Rogers Centre provides a checklist for educators to evaluate the use of technology in their programming. It has recommendations for selection, use, integration, and evaluation.
The Fred Rogers Centre reccomended resources 
The Fred Rogers Centre lists resources for parents and educators when using digital media with children. Resources vary including evaluating media and technology, helpful blogs, development and technology, and their most recommended apps.
Common Sense Media tools and information
This site provides resources to parents, educators, and advocates looking for more information on technology and children. It includes evaluative tools, lesson plans, and reflects on policies regarding internet privacy and children. The search tool on the site allows users to narrow appropriate media suggestions by age. (US based).
University of Alberta rubric for evaluating language apps
This checklist developed by the University of Alberta to evaluate the communication and language acquisition qualities of apps. Although intended for speech pathologists, it is also useful for occupational therapists, educators, and parents.

Technology and health studies published in peer reviewed journals

Health Report: Physical activity and sedentary behaviour of Canadian children aged 3 to 5
Statistics Canada’s study of children 3-5 uses fitness measuring devices to determine the number of hours children spent being sedentary. Parents answered anonymous questionnaires to provide information regarding contributing lifestyle factors that led to increased sedentary behaviour. The study found that there was a correlation between screen time and sedentary behaviour, however it was due to the recommendations for screen time being the same throughout the age groups. Families were not adhering to guidelines, consequently children were aging into appropriate use.
About Kids Health overview of screen time 
Sick Kids provides a definition of technology and summarizes the potential social, emotional, cognitive and physical affects of unrestricted use. It defines screen time and suggests key indicators to look for if a child has too much screen time.
AAP: Handheld screen time linked with speech delays in young children
This site references a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and examines a study that correlates screen time to delayed speech. For every 30 minute increase in screen time there was a 49% increased risk of expressive speech delay.
BMC Pediatrics study of preschool activity, technology use, health, adiposity, behaviour and cognition
The journal studies the effects of screen time on preschool activity, health, well-being, adiposity, behaviour and cognition. The study found there was little correlation between screen time and physical, cognitive and emotional health outcomes, with the potential for other implications.
Cliff, D. P., McNeill, J., Vella, S., Howard, S. J., Kelly, M. A., Angus, D. J., (2017). The preschool activity, technology, health, adiposity, behaviour and cognition (PATH-ABC) cohort study: Rationale and design. BMC Pediatrics, 17 doi:10.1186/s12887-017-0846-4
Journal of Educational Technology: A reflective study into children's cognition when making computer games 
The study questioned whether game design affected children’s thinking patterns for learning, and if so how? They concluded that children’s thinking had changed. Children suggested their brain was more active during game design, described as “thinking deeper” and “thinking faster.”
Allsop, Y. (2016). A reflective study into children's cognition when making computer games. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(4), 665-679. doi:10.1111/bjet.12251

Blogs for Parents

Janell Burley Hofmann's tips for technology use and teaching digital citizenship 
This mom, well known for “The Contract” which outline’s the child’s responsibilities when receiving a phone. Here she outlines 10 ways for parents to approach their children when talking about technology. The blog has tips for managing children’s social media, teaching online citizenship and managing screen time.
Ellie Gibson's advice for choosing and using video games
Ellie Gibson uses her experience as a mother to recommend sources for information and strategies for using and restricting video games. She has a focus on video game violence, and strategies to find age appropriate material.
Jordan Shapiro's opinion of video games and children
Jordan Shapiro summarizes current research to support his positive opinion of children’s use of technology in his blog. He highlights the potential for video games to be used for learning and offers his personal advice for parents based on his experience in the industry and as a father.
Brian Rashid gamifies traditional learning 
Brian Rashid reflects on how gamifying current school curriculum to cater to the interests of children can enhance their learning.

Pedagogical tools for creating programming using technology

SAMR Model of integrating technology into learning
This site goes over the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model of use of technology in the classroom. This can help educators define their own use of technology and how they can possibly reimagine current use.
TPACK Model of teaching with technology
This site goes over the TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge) model of teaching with technology in the classroom and identifies the seven components.
Most recommended apps by educators
This website lists 21 apps that educators may find helpful in their room including those for planning, resources, communicating with children and their parents.

Studies of educator use of technology in the class

Trends in technology and early learning spaces 
Northwest in partnership with the National Association for Education of Young Children and Fred Rogers Center aimed to identify current trends in technology used in early learning spaces in their study. Data concluded that there was an overall increase in awareness of screen time recommendations and training for educators to use technology, however more educators disagreed or strongly disagreed that technology could help individual learning outcomes.

Using technology to expand the classroom

Sugatra Mitra: The child driven education
This TED Talk by Sugata Mitra explains how children’s natural curiosity will allow them to learn once given the tools. He places a computer in the wall outside of his office and children with no prior experience using computers master how to use it, access information, games and teach each other.
Sugatra Mitra: Build a school in the cloud
Sugatra Mitra uses the internet as a tool to connect children who were studying English to British grandmothers. He suggests using the internet not just to access information, but to connect to people who are a wealth of information.
Sal Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education
Sal Khan describes why he created the Khan Academy’s famous videos for teaching math. He suggests that the flexibility of the video format allows children to better understand content depending on their needs. If children need further clarification the educator can supplement learning one to one.
Google Expeditions
This app by Google uses smartphones and a virtual reality (VR) headset, to explore different settings. VR allows children to see different countries, underwater, and even planets in the comfort of their classroom.
Online pen pals
Kidlink uses the internet to connect children across the globe through email and art to give them a cross-cultural experience.
Online pen pals and safe forum space
Students of the World connects children and educators to classrooms across the globe using chats, blogs, and forums.

Assembled by: Amrita Gajadhar, CRRU practicum student, Sheridan College

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