By Primrose Schools
It’s no secret—we live in a world increasingly dependent on technology. Careers, communities and even schools have evolved to include digital technology. However, there is also a wealth of research that shows that too much screen time can be detrimental, especially for children. How do parents find a balance?
At Primrose, our goal is to introduce children to technology in healthy and age-appropriate ways. Starting in our preschool classrooms, students have the opportunity to develop a relationship with technology that encourages learning, growth and development. These guidelines can also be easily applied at home!
When technology is used in the right way:
- It is purposeful. Technology can be a great tool for learning, creating and self-expression. “Responsible technology use supports classroom experiences by providing children with a means to communicate their ideas in different ways,” says Dr. Sandra M. Linder, co-author of the Primrose Balanced Learning® approach.
- It is supervised by an adult. It’s the responsibility of parents and teachers to help children learn how to utilize technology for learning without allowing it to become a primary source of entertainment. Help your child learn how to use technology educationally by using it with them—play educational games, watch educational videos, listen to learning podcasts—and control when it’s time to power down.
- It is limited. “Everything in moderation.” The age-old saying still rings true with today’s advanced technology. Too much screen time not only creates a sense of dependence on technology in young children, but it also can negatively affect their development. At Primrose, we only use technology in our older classrooms and limit screen time to 15 minutes per day, per child. It’s no secret that children also learn by observing—so it’s important for parents to try to limit screen time around little ones as well!
When technology is used incorrectly:
- It’s used as a distraction. In today’s society, screens have become an easy, go-to form of entertainment for both adults and children. It’s important to teach your child at a young age that technology should be used primarily as a tool rather than a distraction. “Use technology for short periods of time to enhance learning and then go outside and play,” says Dr. Steve Sanders, a renowned author recognized for his work in early childhood physical education. Other screen time alternatives include reading a book, taking a walk, making arts and crafts and building a fort.
- It discourages social interactions. Children need to interact and connect with the world around them in order to develop crucial social skills. Lynn Louise Wonders, early childhood development and parenting expert, shares, “When children are allowed to be entertained by digital screens without these parameters, they miss out on interacting and connecting with peers, siblings and adults, which is essential for a child’s healthy brain development.” In Primrose classrooms, children often use technology in pairs to encourage teamwork.
- It replaces hands-on learning. While using technology can be beneficial, it is not a substitute for hands-on learning. “Technology is not the answer to every problem,” says Anna Hall, an assistant professor of early childhood education at Clemson University. “Young children need active, concrete experiences throughout their day to thrive academically and socially.” Spending time outdoors, playing with 3D objects and toys and exploring different textures are all important to the development of a child’s emotional intelligence and executive function skills.