Seven Myths about Young Children and Technology

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2011 1:19pm

#tcmc Christina Boonstra goes mythbusting….   Introduced By:Ayesha Chowdhury, BBC Children’s Interactive Producer, CBeebiesSpeakersJoanna McPake, Reader in Education, University of StrathclydeLydia Plowman, Professor of Education, University of Stirling.   By 10:57 every seat was filled in Showroom 5. By 11:02, the nice people with the blue shirts tried to smuggle more seats into the room for late comers. This was a popular session, but why? Perhaps, it was the cutting edge research. Perhaps, it was the lure of beautiful Showroom 5. Or maybe, delegates came with the hope of that a niggling question may eventually be answered…is technology actually helping this young generation, or does it do more harm than good? The seminar was led by Lydia Plowmen and Joanna McPake who together, have undertaken 8 years of research into this debated topic, focusing on what technologies shape the lives of children of pre-school age in the home. In short, their findings are positive. Technology isn’t ruining anyone’s imagination, or stunting social development. Their main criticism of digital media for the pre-school age was only that it could be better. They see the possibility for learning to take place with the help of digital media as having great potential which at present, is mostly untapped. But, if that summary is little too brief, here are the seven myths about young children and technologies:

  1. Childhood and technology don’t mix: This research didn’t find evidence of technologies having a detrimental affect on children.
  2. Young children are digital natives: Some kids feel overwhelmed by pc’s and other technologies, they all need help getting started.
  3. Technology hinders social interaction: This is unwarranted, watching certain TV programmes stimulated conversion, and the ability to use camera phones and digital cameras gave preschoolers a chance to communicate without having to read or write.
  4. Technology dominates children’s lives: Technology is just one of a range of activities that children do at some point on their own, or with others.
  5. Play = learning: It is agreed that we learn through play, but its not the only way. Imitation, modelling, instruction and personal experiences all shape the things children learn.
  6. If its interactive, it must be educational: A lot of well marketed toys don’t actually live up to their claims of being education. For example, so far, no technology can simulate a joint reading experience, interactive reading books are no match for the real thing.
  7. Children need to get tech savvy for their future lives: We don’t know what will dominate work technologies. But positive learning experience in early years make for successes later on in life.