Message from TYC Editorial Team
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What is developmentally appropriate technology practice? When should preschool educators integrate technology and media in their teaching, and when are other tools a better choice? The DAP position statement, the DAP book, and NAEYC’s collection of research-informed, classroom-based publications aim to support the work of every early childhood educator as you continue to negotiate these decisions and strive to put DAP into action.
In this issue, you’ll read about how a number of programs and educators navigate these questions. The articles address
- how and when to integrate technology and media into preschool settings
- how technology guidelines can actually support creativity
- how lessons learned during the pandemic can help educators make more confident decisions about technology and media with young children
- how wonder and family engagement can be enhanced through innovative solutions
As a special preview of the critical content in Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, Fourth Edition, we share the following excerpt from Chapter 2, “Principles in Practice: Understanding Child Development and Learning in Context,” by Iheoma Iruka. Consider the reflection questions that follow as you read the articles in this issue and contemplate practices in your own setting.
Used responsibly and intentionally, technology and interactive media can be valuable tools for supporting children’s development and learning.
Technology, particularly mobile technology, has become part of the daily life of young children. Many educators and families are concerned that too much time with digital media negatively impacts brain development and behavior. Some researchers are concerned about the impact on sustained attention, particularly in relation to reading (Wolf 2018). Certainly, concerns about impact on learning and the developing brain cannot be ignored, but this should not preclude the use of technology as one tool among many in the classroom. Carefully chosen and implemented technologies can enhance children’s interests, explorations, and creations, especially when devices are made available to children and families who do not have access to them and knowledgeable adults (teachers and families) work to support children’s use of them to create, collaborate, and communicate (Fantozzi, Johnson, & Scherfen 2018; Takeuchi, Vaala, & Ahn 2019). The principles of developmentally appropriate practice and the joint position statement from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media (2012) on technology and interactive media in early childhood programs encourage the intentional use of technologies with young children, while stating clearly that not all technologies are equally appropriate.
Intentional choices by educators are critical in considering when technology and media should be incorporated and what type of technology or digital media is used. Some of the most important questions to consider are (1) What is this technology or media adding to children’s learning? and (2) Are children engaged in active hands-on learning where they are creating, or does the technology limit their learning by being too closed ended and offering only one way to use the tool? (An important note to keep in mind when considering this second question is that a technology with one purpose may be appropriate for developing a specific skill.) Open-ended apps, such as those designed for creativity or communication, can be integrated into play-based practices and support connections between the classroom and home (Fantozzi, Johnson, & Scherfen 2018). This is an area in which more research is needed; as technology and media become prevalent in families and children’s lives, it is important for educators to understand the emerging research and be able to make decisions about when the use of a particular technology enhances children’s learning.
Reflection Questions: Technology and Media in Your Setting
Reflect on these questions as you consider the kinds of technology you have used or have observed other educators using in their classrooms:
- What do you see as the benefits of technology and interactive media for children at different ages? How can the use of technology and interactive media promote children’s learning and development?
- What do you see as the challenges with technology and interactive media for teachers and children?
- Think of a time you have used technology in your classroom or that you have seen another educator do so. How was that technology used (e.g., children used the technology on their own, you or another adult worked with children to use the technology)? Why did you use this strategy?