The Ultimate Guide to Digital Device Use in Early Childhood Education.

When it comes to using digital devices with children, there is often a lot of differing opinions and practices we see around the early childhood sector. Wanting to help dispel the confusion or uncertainty of what we should or should not be doing, we have created an informative guide sheet. Often referred to as the Three C’s of digital device use, it explores the three overarching positive uses of digital technology, with an umbrella fourth C of what type of use to avoid or minimise wherever possible.

Starting with what to try to minimise, we have:

Consumption

Consumption is when children are just watching the content or media that you are presenting them. Oftentimes, you can tell when children are just consuming media by what their role is. If children have to sit, stand or otherwise be still to merely ‘watch’ the screen, then the children are consuming. This is NOT a meaningful use of digital devices, and in fact is not a high-quality practice at all. Instead of just consuming media and digital device use, think: What else could we be doing? Could it be an oral song, or a dance with the class. Could we get outside and get active, or does this ‘group time’ need to be happening at all? There are hundreds of things we could be doing, each of them is a choice. Why are we choosing to do this instead of anything else?

Creativity

As educators, we are always looking at ways we can promote children’s creativity and outside the box thinking. One of the powerful tools we have in today’s modern age is digital devices. The use of these technologies can open up so many interesting applications, creative processes, and ways of viewing the world outside what is possible without them. Think about letting children use video and picture taking programs to explore different perspectives, or use tools that can allow for stop motion capture. Some researchers and pioneers are even exploring virtual reality! There’s so much we can do to let children create from nothing when using digital devices. What will you think of?
Creativity is always a great reason to use digital devices.

Connecting

The world is a huge place, with children only really able to connect to their immediate world and communities. What digital devices have afforded us is the ability to connect at any time to anywhere or anyone in the world. This opens the door to use digital devices for another meaningful purpose: Connecting. Think about the ways you could use devices to connect with authors who write our favourite books, connect and explore the world beyond our local communities such as virtual tours and fieldtrips, or even to connect with other children across other kindergartens and childcare services. Remember, you don’t have to connect to the very far and distant. You can also use the power of the internet and cameras to connect to the micro-world of bugs, slugs, and creepy crawlies! You can magnify, research, and explore what might otherwise not be possible at all.

Communicating

Digital technologies may enhance young children’s ability to communicate, giving voices to the voiceless or by letting children express abstract thoughts, ideas, concepts, and solutions to problems outside of what could be possible without them. Being able to send and receive video messages can also build an advanced awareness to belonging and social connections across distances. There are pioneers who are introducing age-appropriate programs in computer programming, as there are differences and necessary skillsets required to effectively communicate with and through digital devices compared to more traditional face to face interactions.
So in an advancingly digitised world, the head starts we provide at a young age will translate to greater success later on.

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