Rules for Young Kids Using Tech
For most young learners being online is a natural state. With 95% of learners between the ages of 8-11 using the internet almost weekly, there is no doubt that their understanding of the web is growing. Not only are young kids using the web, but they are exploring it, learning through it, and using it more than ever. Education technology is being marketed at kids as young as two. Parents and educators must understand how best to use education technology and the concerns that come with it. All parties involved in early education and education technology can start by laying down some guidelines.
Behind the Screen
Although tech can bring great educational benefits, young kids cannot be placed behind a screen all day. Prolonged exposure to a screen may do more harm than good. On average, kids typically sit behind a screen for 5-7 hours, including entertainment time. Education technology in the classroom would increase this exposure.
Therefore, young learners must have a balance between screen time and unplugged time. Educators need to understand that young kids should not be placed behind a screen for hours on end. They can reap the cognitive benefits of education technology but need to also benefit from interacting face to face with peers exploring the world around them, and using things they learned from education technology in their everyday lives.
The Right Tech at the Right Time
Young kids are drawn to bright and interactive education technology. Although this is great for advertisers, it should not be the sole reason a kid sits down with an educational product. Young learners should be using education technology to fulfill a learning outcome, to complete a task, and not because the education app or tool offers pretty pictures. Developmentally, young kids move fast, and educators and parents must make the right education technology choices at the right time.
Kids understand the fun and learning that comes along with tech but not always the responsibility and risks. Education technology needs to function on a device that is secure for young learners. Educators should start teaching kids about cybersecurity and make sure that learners learn to report issues with the tech device, content, and any other tech-related problems.
Young learners are easily distracted, and with a myriad of learning apps and games on a single device, education technology may not be their priority. This can be remedied using apps that block access as well as parental lock functions. Education technology needs to exist as an educational tool, not as a game that can be clicked in and out. Although education technology can be fun, it needs to command their attention for longer periods to be effective.
So, although education technology improves learners’ access to education, educators and parents need to be aware of how it can be used with young learners. By implementing a few guidelines, young learners can engage with education technology to prepare them for the future of education, giving them opportunities to live unplugged lives.