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Ways to use technology to get your kid thinking

December 20, 2013
By

mom-daughter

There are two important rules of thumb overall. One is that the younger the child, the more important it is that there be active adult supervision when using technology. The second is that verbal language skills be taught and exercised during the adult supervision.

Lilla Dale McManis

Research director

Hatch: The Early Learners Experts

When using technology tools and interactive media for children, parents, caregivers and teachers should consider their stage of development and choose the method of interaction accordingly, says Lilla Dale McManis, M.Ed.,PhD, research director at Hatch: The Early Learners Experts.

“There are two important rules of thumb overall. One is that the younger the child, the more important it is that there be active adult supervision when using technology. The second is that verbal language skills be taught and exercised during the adult supervision. (such as using a robust and specific vocabulary, talk about feelings, and negotiating with others)”, says McManis.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Media suggest the use of specific technology tools and interactive media for each stage of development.

Infants and toddlers are delighted by human faces and they will benefit by exploring digital material with an adult as a co-player. Parents can show them images of their family, other children, animals and the environment while making comments. The adult will engage the child in interactive activities, where the child can participate but keep them away from passive screen time, such as television or videos.

Preschoolers and kidergardners are interested in creative communication through different media, like paintings, drawings, dramatic play, movement, dancing and singing. Touch screens or tablets provide good opportunities for interactive media experiences, and serve as an introduction to more traditional mouse and keyboard computers. This is a good time to guide them to websites and look for answers with a search engine. They will enjoy seeing their play or artwork recorded on digital audio or video files. At school they can use digital microscopes to capture images and store them in a computer or participate in video conferences with children in other locations.

School age children can use digital tools to explore the world, to study scientific and social concepts, and to master tools for self expression and learning. They can learn from interactive digital games to explore language, math, reading, social studies and science.

Parents or teachers can provide opportunities for children to understand the concept of a global world by using technology to communicate with children in other communities through email, blogs, or video conferencing.