PARENTING: Smart use of technology for preschoolers

02 June 2017
Reading time3 minutes

We can’t deny we live in a technological world. It’s all around us and our children. But how can we ensure that preschoolers are getting the benefits from technology and screen time rather than the adverse effects we hear about?

Community Kids Childcare and Early Learning Centre Manager and spokesperson Melissa Blank, says educators and parents can harness the power of technology for education and creativity.

“There can be a multitude of benefits from technology for Kindergarten or Preschool if we are smart about it, especially when it comes to school readiness” says Ms Blank. “As long as parents and educators are thoughtful about choosing quality over quantity and creating good screen habits, we can see great results.

“Good-quality technological programs and apps can support a child’s learning, especially if it ties in with their interests or sparks their imagination.”

Ms Blank says as educators and parents we must play a large role in managing a child’s overall screen time, rather than leaving them to their own with a device.

Making the most of technology

When it comes to making the most of technology, it really is all about quantity AND quality.

Quantity

The current guidelines state children aged two to five years should have no more than an hour a day of screen time with an adult watching or playing with them, according to the Raising Children Network.

“If you find it’s difficult for the child to stop using the technology, it’s a good idea to pre-warn them before they are nearing the end of their session,” says Ms Blank. “For children, understanding time can be difficult so perhaps use a kitchen timer to signal the end of their viewing/play. Also, letting the child turn the TV or device off at home can be more effective than you just switching it off yourself.”

Quality

Choosing the right programs and apps can make all the difference.

“The question you need to ask is ‘will this media/program/app support the child’s learning, is it age appropriate and does it encourage creativity, problem solving and communication skills?’” says Ms Blank. “For example, an art application where the child can create and draw onscreen using different shapes and colours is better than perhaps a television program that’s not age appropriate and filled with advertisements.

“When you help your child combine quality choices with good screen habits and time limits, this can set up the child for a healthy and balanced future when it comes to technological use.”

Technology in action

The Community Kids Coomera Early Education Centre hosts and uses an array of technological devises such as laptops, iPads and interactive TVs which the children have access to at certain times.

“We do this to ensure children are educated on the way of the future and to enhance their learning experience,” says centre manager Melissa Blank.

For example, in the centre’s kindy room, the children have 40 minutes of screen time a week on a rostering system with a language application called ELLA on an iPad.

During rest time, for the children who do not sleep, are encouraged to use a “listening station” where CD players with audio books are set up.

“We also have an interactive TV, if you imagine a TV-sized iPad, which is a touch screen which the children can use for sorting and drawing games for example,” says Ms Blank.

“We also use the interactive TVs as part of our curriculum and create lessons that incorporate the technology.”

What do you think? Does your pre-schooler use technology?

Read more about how to encourage positive screen time at home and check out these top apps for starting school

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City

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