Critics On Early Computer Use By Children Education Essay

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There is ever-increasing demand faced by many schools worldwide when trying to equip student to enable them enter the workforce as well as navigate through this complicated world. According to many research finding it's viewed that learning can be supported by technology such as use of computer and media, it is seen to be so relevant in developing skills of highest order as well as critical thinking, scientific inquiry and analysis. But just computers presence in the classroom doesn't give guarantee that there is effective use. Some computer applications have been shown to be more successful than others, and many factors influence how well even the most promising applications are implemented. Several ways have been explored in this article on technology such as computer use and television on how children learning can be improved .For example we have several types of computer-based applications that indicates ways how technology can improve children learning by supporting four key fundamental characteristics of learning: real-world connections, active engagement, groups' participation, feedback as well as frequent interaction. Furthermore the above types defines ways how technology can broaden what children learn through enabling them in understanding key concepts in subjects like science, mathematics, as well as literacy. Research indicates that improvements in teacher training, student assessment curriculum can make technology more efficient and as a learning tool .This will help inform decisions about the future role of technology in children advancement in learning, In conclusion the article informs that there is need for further research in order to identify uses that support learning more effectively without forgetting the conditions needed for successful implementation.


With regards to technology advancement, education has been influenced greatly, more so to the learning advancement of children. Learning has been made easier due to these advancements such as existence of mobile phones, computers as well as internet, with internet any educational materials can be found so easily unlike during those days. Furthermore the internet has existed to be a potential place of meeting to people of common interests and minds. This enables them to meet and discuss as well as exchange ideas and concepts concerning their study options and choices. It's now so easy to access Knowledge such that the children like everyone else can learn almost anything on the internet. In this context, where there are computers, phones, video games, it is critical to assess whether this advances of technology has harmed or helped children's to development mentally and emotionally. Some experts don't agree on the response or answer. On the other hand some debate that technology advancement affected children negatively some areas of their development, but they acknowledge to have helped in other areas.

We live in a society that is changing drastically driven by higher levels of technological advancement. More powerful capabilities for humanity are being created by new technologies, hence allowing opportunities for change which are in-depth as compared to additional relaxation hours as well as greater economic prosperity. Changing which is due to new capabilities is affecting people's way of viewing the world.

A teacher who was present during late nineteenth century could find many quite familiar things if he happens to enter in any typical classroom of today, what would come across is talk and chalk as well as desks and texts which similarly existed during his days

With regards to the nineteenth century, it would be a shock to the teacher on today's demands of curricula. To be specific for example, there was little expectation s from students including children for just a century ago, who could only recite famous texts, simple scientific facts recounting, as well as solving general arithmetic problems. It was expected for about

3.5% students to learn algebra prior high school completion. Currently, it's expected that all high school students should be able to read and understand unfamiliar text, also to acquire

Competency in scientific inquiry processes as well as solving mathematics problems algebra.3 included. This rising expectations trend is accelerating together with booming knowledge that can be accessed by the public as well as workplace growing demands. Another key issue is that currently with regards to advancement in technology children including students will be able to learn how to navigate through versed information available, and fully participate in an increasingly technological society through mastering of calculus including other complicated subjects. Over the past century there is little change on blackboards and books which is classroom tools. There is dramatic increase on societal demands on what children learn.8 Analysts of education policy, speculate that there is a versed consensus which is satisfying these demands and it will require rethinking how child learning is supported by educators. Currently there is much focuses on implementing and identifying highest priority and reforms that is most relevant in the curricula areas, training of teachers, assessment of student, safety, administration and buildings. Technology role to play within this reform movement is to be defined. Despite early champions of their revolutionary educational potential, innovations of the Past in media technology, that includes television, radio, video and film, have had ,minimal effect on the way and what children learn in school,

. Cuban et al 1995In the same context, despite computer technology being powerful force in today's society with several benefits on education, it may have minimal impact because of it being very expensive and is also expensive and misguiding in some of its uses.

Nevertheless, Schools have been equipped with computers and connections to the Internet by several billions in public and private funds and there is more expectations of having more funds being dedicated to this purpose in the future resources such as bringing computers into the classroom. Parents, policymakers, and educators should determine how to improve student learning through effective technology.9

This article looks at the way and how advancement in technology has impacted the advancement of children learning. In the first parts several computer-based technology applications have been highlighted as it has shown to be more effective in improving how and what children learn. As it's seen that computer technology may result to learning improvements it does not guarantee that it will do so due to technology introduction into classrooms. According to several Studies, computer-based technology is a tool in which there is a coordinated approach for curriculum improvement, assessment, teacher development, together with other school structure aspects. The article concludes with a brief discussion of a framework to guide future research efforts.


The purpose of this research paper is to provide the society of technology an introductory evidence source and a debatable reality overview. Key principles and components of technology on child learning advancement are evaluated alongside research advancements existing today which have the potential of enhancing directly the performance through reality augmentation.

Review of literature

In relationship to this ownership of computer increase, the amount of children exposure towards this technology has been on increase. 2000 U.S. Census found that, 58% of 3-5 years old children live in a household with atleast a computer (USDC, 2001). This computer access among young children prevalence is to common whereby in 1997 the Education Department proposed a quantitative research in the area of technology for preschoolers (Fischer & Gillespie, 2003).

Another focus area is that children who spend too much time in front of the television or playing video games tend to have worse grades than those students who are active and involved in extracurricular activities. Studies have shown that since they are so used to multi-tasking they have trouble focusing all of their attention on schoolwork. Studies performed by Dr. Rosen at Cal State showed that 16-18 year olds perform 7 tasks, on average, at one time like texting on their cell phone, sending instant messages while checking Facebook with the television on. "I worry that young people won't be able to summon the capacity to focus and concentrate when they need to," said Vickey Rideout, a Vice President at the Kaiser Foundation.

Critics on early computer use by Children

In preschools, the main concerns of technology absence of social interaction visualized by some people. The concern of Stout (1983) on computers, it was that it could change children to miniature machines that totally lack in human emotions. Basing on the very recent views their estimations are not quite dramatic, they speculate that a basic aim of preschools is to increase social competence as well as offer social interaction (Lepper & Gurtner, 1989). The child's social and emotional well-being is provided by teachers and peers in ways that a computer cannot (Fein, Campbell, & Schwartz, 1987; Lepper & Gurtner). The concern of some educators and researchers is that computers will be a way to manage or entertain large groups of children, whereby other methods of teaching will be employed more often (Lee & Houston, 1986). On the same context, there are concerns that distraction for children may occur due to computers, whereby children may choose computers out of all other relevant physical activities and learning experiences (Cordes & Miller, 2000; Henniger, 1994). Others are against the computers that are seen to be too difficult for young children to use accordingly (Goodwin, Goodwin, Nansel, & Helm, 1986; Simon, 1985). Still there are debates by others that intense learning activities should be experienced by young children through hands-on and manipulatives activities, but not through symbolic activities on computers (Fein, et al., 1987; Lee & Houston). There are other several stated reasons by Elkind (1996) on why young children should not be introduced to technology. Hs major emphases was on inclinations by some educators' to measure intelligence of a child by their capacity to manipulate keyboard and a mouse. In his article, small note written by him stated that he managed to preview a position statement on technology and young children by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) of which he found out that his main issues were being addressed and intention for computers to be the only tool used for young children to learn. A report entitled, Fool's Gold, published in the year 2000 by the Alliance for Childhood (Cordes & Miller, 2000): A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood. There was a debate in the report that technology is detrimental to children socially, physically and intellectually. Their fact in the argument was that something relevant for adults is not always relevant for children; hence rushing childhood is not a better idea. They argued against those serious risks on health which includes stress injuries, eyestrain and obesity is posed by computers. Human interaction reduction may affect children's emotional and social development together with development of their language. Finally, according to Fool's Gold argued that the need for imagination and creativity will remain present even if technology changes as children become working adults.

Effect of Early Computer use on Social-Emotional Development on Children

A versed of learning materials and experience on various activities exploration should be permitted on young children.Children should not be made to feel guilty about their goals whereby they should have purpose and direction in their activities. There was a description by Gillespie and Beisser (2001) on how Erikson's psychosocial theory of development has consequences for early technology use. Relevant software offers children with a versed of options which can be exploited and manipulated freely. Children are allowed to make decisions and take initiative when learning through open-ended software programs. Finally, it is important that children should be encouraged on computers exploration as well as other learning materials and not stifle the choices made by them by teachers. Through this sense of encouragement and incorporation of several choices, it will enable children to increase their self-esteem as well as gain a sense of initiative (Haugland, 1992). According to a study that was done, young children who could access computer had more pronounced gains in self-esteem as compared to children without computer access (Haugland, 1992). Furthermore computers can serve a function that is important on children's self-concept enhancement (Haugland, 1996).


Classroom Interaction Patterns

There were three studies that observed changes on children's interaction patterns with the introduction of computer in the overall classroom. A sample size of 44 preschool children was considered whereby interview was contacted on preschool staff regarding the peer groupings of children; this was aimed at determining if these already existing groupings changed with computer introduction (Swigger & Swigger, 1984).According to the results, the introduction of

a computer to a classroom never affected the already-established social groups instead most children opted to be with their close friends as they play at the computer. Current leadership structure of the classroom was seen to be reinforced by the computer in this preschool classroom (Swigger & Swigger, 1984). Those children identified previously as leaders in the classroom applied their leadership in terms of the computer as well. Similarly, there emerged one leader in the classroom due to computer introduction. Previously the child possessed knowledge about the operation of a computer. A child's confidence among his peers can be increased as a result of leadership role, thus this can enhance helping and initiation behavior by a child which may have not been experienced previously. In another study, general classroom interactions were observed on alternating computer-in and computer-out days (Fein et al., 1987). Thirty children of 3-5 years old were included in this study. The main mode of play was parallel and it was regardless of present or absent of the computer. It was observed that there was no frequent change of onlooker or solitary play for Computer-in days. More parallel play was seen for Computer-in; it was a play that was less unoccupied as well as less interactive as compared to computer-out days. Overall results of same kind to the classroom on interactions were observed in a study containing 42 children of the two classrooms (Anderson, 1998). The computer center hosted more parallel play as compared to the other learning centers as well as less cooperative play. The solitary frequency difference was not observed, this also included the onlooker, disruptive, unoccupied, teacher-initiating interaction. In both studies it showed that parallel play is the most pronounced type of play among these preschool children. There was no increase in frequency of solitary play due to computer introduction in spite of some critics' concerns. Also, cooperative play decreased in the computers presence despite some supporter's beliefs as well as interactive frequency. social isolation fears was not observed and generally, with computers introduction, the classroom social environment seemed not to change significantly. The literature on the social effects of computer use is so limited. All current studies available normally includes sample sizes that is small, normally one to two preschool classrooms. Furthermore, the studies performed were mostly in university laboratory preschools involving middle class white children. Lastly, comparable definitions of social interactions of the studies were not there. For example, according to a study which reported high rates (70%) of behaviors sharing (Muller & Perlmutter, 1985) as well as another one which reported that computers introduction resulted to decreased level of cooperation (Anderson, 1998). Thus, none of these studies had clear definitions of these behaviors.

Effect of Early computer use on Cognitive Development of Children

With regards to early computers introduction it's too difficult for young children to use this computers well as well as understand (Goodwin et al., 1986; Simon, 1985). Furthermore according to many critics is that creativity in young children will be lost due to this computers (Cordes & Miller, 2000). Various studies have been viewed here whereby cognitive outcomes of early computer use have been outlined. These studies discussed, is based on two theories of child development by Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget.

According to Jean Piaget theory, children are gifted innately, active learners, who familiarize with the world long before noticed (Papert, 1980). He stated that knowledge construct by children is independently through their world experiences (Schetz & Stremmel, 1994). Teaching methods with a Piagetian view in this framework has led to the belief that direct experiences and involvement actively is need by children in their life through play and exploration (Schetz & Stremmel). View of Piagetian has epanded to the young children using computers through one of Piaget's students, Seymour Papert. Papert argued out in his 1980 book, Mind storms that computers are a good tool for enhancing this kind of active discovery to enable children to be in control of their own learning. Even though they are not able to manipulate a computer physically, still these computers provide meaningful learning experiences that are in line with Piagetian theory (Clements et al., 1993). In a study that was carried out, 3-5-year-old children parents completed a questionnaire which evaluated the child's at-home computer use (Li & Atkins, 2004). School readiness skills and cognitive development of each child was evaluated. Children who accessed computer, scored more higher on both the cognitive and the school readiness assessments after controlling for SES. In another study, four preschool classrooms with 49 children were examined (Haugland, 1992). There was division of treatment groups along classrooms. Computers with relevant developmental software and supplemental activities were placed in one class. On a table next to the computers, on it supplemental activities were placed which were designed to include concepts learned on the computer into hands-on classroom activities. In the second classroom, relevant developmental software with no supplemental activities was in cooperated. None developmentally appropriate software was allocated to third treatment group. A group that never had access to computer was taken to be a control group. Intelligence, creativity, and self-esteem for the Children was assessed at pre- and post test level. Intelligence measures observed had the differences that are Significant on children in the appropriate developmental software with supplemental activities group and the appropriate developmental software group (Haugland, 1992). Children in the developmental appropriate group with supplemental activities group had higher scores in post test. This was six out of eight of the cognitive subtests. There was gain in cognitive skills on four out of eight of the cognitive subtests of exposed children to appropriate developmental software with no supplemental activities. Gain in the subtest attention enhancement was associated to non developmentally appropriate software. There was no much gain observed in development of cognitive from the pre- to posttest period in the control group .Basing on these findings there is enough evidence for Papert's view that computers offer opportunities to children for active learning. In a study done by Haugland (1992), It was observed that children were fascinated by the computer screen after being exposed to the nondevelopmental software (a drill-and-practice program) therefore their participation was not active as well as they were not able to react to their environment. Intelligence gain was not significant in these children. The developmental software enabled children to engage actively in the experience as well as allowed them to have a sense of control over their environment. There were gains in several areas of cognitive development by these children that support Piagetian theory who argues that when children engage actively in their environment they learn very well. There is an argument by some authors that, it is an individualist view for the fact that Piaget provides a better framework for learning to children through computers because it may not be applied to educational setting such as preschool, where teachers and peers have such influence that is active (Schetz & Stremmel, 1994). They strongly believe that a Vygotskian view of cognitive development that is socially mediated can be applied appropriately to technology in preschool.

Basing on Vygotsky argue, children learn through task structuring by a more experienced person but instead they don't learn through exploration that is independent,(Vygotsky, 1978). The role of this experienced person is to recognize the capacity of the child, and work within that child developmental scope after stretching those capabilities. The development scope is the difference between what he can learn with a partner who is skilled and what a child can learn by himself. The more skilled partner break the task into manageable pieces for easier handling by the child through scaffolding, hence the complexity of the task is increased gradually for the child. Some of the strategies of Scaffolding included actions like pointing to the task, reminding, suggesting, and questioning (Schetz & Stremmel, 1994). The usefulness of Vygotskian theory has been discussed by many authors who have described the early computer use benefits (Downes, Arthur, & Beecher, 2001; Robinson, n.d.; Samaras, 1996; Schetz & Stremmel, 1994). The teacher role is to know computer skill level of the child as well as provide required assistance (Samaras). Problem solving should be engaged by teachers in collaborative with the child as well as provide nonverbal and verbal instructions and feedback (Samaras; Schetz, 1994). They believe by Vygotsky (1978) also was that vital role is played by peers learning of young children. A unique learning environment is provided by computers for a scaffolding peer. Children share problem space of which tasks are completed and solve problems together as this seems to be irresistible when working together at the computer. (Freeman & Somerindyke, 2001).

The model, as illustrated in Figure 1, has five steps or phases: Familiarization, Utilization, Integration, Reorientation, and Evolution. The full potential of any educational technology can only be realized when educators progress through all five phases, otherwise, the technology will likely be misused or discarded (Rieber & Welliver, 1989; Marcinkiewicz, in press, 1991). The traditional role of technology in education is necessarily limited to the first three phases, whereas contemporary views hold the promise to reach the Evolution phase.

. In a study which included a sample size of 150 children of 5-6-years old. This was done after extensive training of teachers, there were three groups of which teachers and the children were placed in either of these groups: accompaniment, mediation, as well as control or no assistance group (Nir-Gal & Klein, 2004). In the group of mediation, children were helped by teachers to focus on the task; children's thinking was expanded and encouraged as well as the behavior of children was regulated. In the group of accompaniment teachers were instructed to only respond to questions from children. No assistance/control was provided in the third group, but instead technical assistance was minimal. In the beginning and end of the school year, assessment of the Children was based on abstract reasoning, visuo-motor, planning behavior, vocabulary and coordination. According to the results, children in the group of mediation there was higher score as compared to both groups on all measures (Nir-Gal & Klein)On the other hand, The differences was not significant

Media and Young Children's Learning

Television in particularly, there has been a lot of criticisms on electronic media, for their direct potential effect on children. The main concern area is on how achievement in academic and cognitive development has been influenced by early media exposure. The relevant research was summarized by Heather Kirkorian, and Daniel Anderson who provided various suggestions for positive impact maximization of media on the other hand the negative effects minimization. Recurrent concern has been voiced over television effect on viewers, children in particular since it first appeared in the mid twentieth century. This concern has extended to other electronic screen media recently, video game consoles and computers included. Although there is much to be learned by researchers, information has been provided by them on the links between children's learning and cognitive skills with electronic media, especially television. It's clear that there should be some consideration of media content most in terms of media effects. With regards to development, it's at least important that what children watch is more important than how much they watch.

Learning from Electronic Media by Children

There are clear claims on several products of infant-directed media on their value of educational; Baby Einstein as some of the titles keeps the claim clear. But little is known by analysts about how far two years and younger children can learn from television programs that is produced commercially. Learning from video experiments findings strongly show that toddlers and infants learn better from real-life experiences as compared to video. When learning from video turns to robust, at about age three video deficit tends to disappears,18

Video deficit theory is supported by several researches. Language learning Studies have shown that two aged and older children are able to learn vocabulary from television.19 as compared to older children, furthermore, toddlers as well as infants are less able to learn from video. In an experiment done, the findings was that children as younger as two were able to learned vocabulary very well from real-life experiences as compared to presentations from videos.20 The findings with other experiments showed that in preserving foreign phonemes discrimination, television as models are less effective as compared to live ones or speech sounds in infants.21

More support on video deficit theory is from several studies that examined toddlers and infants ability to imitate specific actions, like demonstrations actions of a puppet by an adult.

In an experiment comparing toddlers' imitation of live and mediated (that is, videotaped) models, Rachel Barr and Harlene Hayne reported that twelve-, fifteen-, and eighteen-month-olds were more likely to perform a behavior after viewing unmediated, live models than after viewing either the video model or no model. Only the oldest age group was more likely to perform the behavior after seeing the video model than the control group after seeing no modeled behavior.22 A more recent experiment made similar findings for children at twenty-four and thirty months.23 It is clear that, unlike infants and toddlers, preschool-age children can readily imitate behaviors seen on video.24

Media Effects on Attention and Other Cognitive Skills of Children

There are critics on television that the development of children's cognitive skills is influence negatively. Concerns on the development of attention and other cognitive skills by television have raised much debate. According to several common hypothesis, scenes and content frequent change, disrupts the ability of young children in attention sustainability.31. longitudinal data on reanalysis collected during the 1980s observed that there is a marginal correlation between early exposure of television at ages one and three years and subsequent symptoms of attention problems at age seven.32There is mixed up of findings from several studies since then.33 The most probable linking factor between early television viewing and attention skills is program content. Types of programs is not measured in several correlation studies of which children are exposed, this makes it hard for any conclusions to be drawn concerning content effects. However, there was suggestions by a recent correlation study done that an important mediator of association between exposure to television before age three and subsequent attention problems is content. To be specific, early exposure to entertainment that is non-educational and violent programmes was positively related with later attention deficit symptoms but on the other hand educational television exposure was not associated to attention problems.34 There was an early study done on television impact on behavior in preschoolers, the content type which children viewed was varied experimentally. In this study there was comparison of preschoolers who were exposed to pro social programs (Neighborhood, Mister Rogers'), neutral films, as well as violent cartoons (Batman, Superman).35 The observation was done on Children for a baseline period of three weeks, then later done for four-week television period view, and lastly for two weeks after view period. According to this studies it was suggest that the association between television viewing and children's attention skills is linked by content. There was decreased measure on Children who viewed the violent cartoons

Figure 2. Philosophies of learning and teaching can be viewed as a continuum with extreme educational interpretations of behaviorism (for example, instruction) and cognitivism (for example, construction) at either end. Any one educator's philosophy resides somewhere on this line. The threshold between the two views marks a critical point of "transformation" for an educator.


The rate of exposure to computers and media by young children in homes and at preschool is so high. However there is strong opposition on if use of computer as well as media is harmful or beneficial to young children learning development. The reviewed literature explored studies concerning the effects of computer and media use on young children's development of language social, cognitive as well as motivation. This seems not to be the case according to all research done despite early concerns that computers may result to children becoming socially isolated from teachers and peers. Of course, it was rare to observe that children played on the computer on their own even after an attempt of the teachers to try tried to make them play alone on the computer. There was no change on the children as they continued to interact with their peers (Freeman & Somerindyke, 2001).More peer interaction was observed as compared to teacher interactions. Reports conflicts were so minimal and normally it involved arguments over turn-taking and computer sharing. What was also explored was the effect of technology on the overall patterns of interaction in the classroom. According to results it showed that parallel play was still the most frequent type of interaction in preschool classrooms. For solitary play there was no increase observed and for cooperative or interactive play there was some slight decrease. Although, generally there was small sample sizes on early studies about computer and media use on cognitive development it still suggest a cognitive benefit trend towards computer and media use. Young children who use computers, do show more gains in cognitive skills than those children with no access to computer. Computer play is in line with both Piagetian and Vygotskian theory. There is active engagement by Children when on the computer also they have control over their play. The teacher's assistance and experienced peers as well, also appears to aid in the cognitive benefits of computers. Although it seems that computers don't promote development of language any more as compared to traditional teaching methods, computers offer an environment for children to use enough language with both teachers and peers. It also seems that young children are highly motivated by Computers use. Generally their experiences on the computer are very positive hence they tend to stay on task for a long time period.

With regards to media many studies have associated it with cognitive skill development as well as achievements in academic; there are strong suggestions from these in-depth studies that the most important linking factor is content. Although in particular the finding is true for television, which seems to be crucial for interactive media as well. Its strongly evident that children older than two learn from educational media, and its moderately evident that exposure to educational television in preschool years period is linked positively with several academic achievement measures ten years later. It's also suggested by Moderate evidence that early exposure, entertainment content that is pure and violence of media in particular, is related negatively to academic achievement and cognitive skills. According to research observations concerning the benefits linked with exposure to high-quality, age-appropriate and educational media, offer an important opportunity to child-directed media hence capitalize on time spent by children older than two. In fact, parents are able to take initiatives to fully explore the positive effects of media while negative ones are less explored. The programs production should be guide by research that foster transfer and learning. It is also suggested by Moderate evidence that parents can also fully explore the media benefits through age-appropriate selection, educational programs and viewing with their children.

Media effects research review done here is largely based on studies of preschool age and older young children. Furthermore there is minimal research studies on media exposure in children who are younger than two of age, even though its minimal there are strong suggestions that learning from media by infants and toddlers might differ as compared to older children. a video deficit is experienced among children under two such that they learn less from video than from real-life experiences. Other weak worrying evidence suggests that there is a negative relationship between exposure to television to children younger than age two and cognitive development which comes later. Particularly it has become important to understand the media effect during the first few years of life, given that the dramatic increase in media now is being produced for infants and toddlers,.


It's recommended that programs production should be guide by research that foster transfer and learning.Almost it's hard to make a general argument against computer use at school and home because of several confounding factors and broad children developmental stages that is normally affected. Instead, research with vigorous methodology is needed in clearly defined environments of learning to evaluate the losses from diverse developmental aspects which may provide information for policy-makers. It is also suggested that parents can also fully explore the media benefits through age-appropriate selection, educational programs and viewing with their children.

7 Cuban, L. Teachers and machines: The classroom uses of technology since 1920. New York: Teachers College

Press, 1986; and Tyack, D., and Cuban, L. Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge,

MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.