Are iPads healthy or poisonous apples in early childhood?
Have we ever thought there was too much technology at early years? In the past few years, technology has developed rapidly. Electronic devices have been applied everywhere. Since the launch of iPad in 2010, it has become increasingly popular in early-years learning. Nowadays in early age, children are more accessible to the iPad devices than ever before. Parents are buying them for their children and allowing them to use freely. They consider iPad as their “electronic nanny” which engages the child throughout, allowing parents more free time for themselves. They believed that iPad is not only harmless but also function as an educator to their children, pushing their technological intelligence to the next level. As a teacher, I am often asked by the parents to recommend some educational apps, which could help their children learn at home.
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In my opinion, the existence of latest mass communication media symbolizes the rapid advancement of our modern world. This breakthrough enhances the convenience of sharing and searching information amongst the children. Media exposure enriches their knowledge in terms of life quality.
However, the British leading psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman indicated ‘‘Children should be banned from using computers until they are 9 years old because the early use of technology is destroying the development of their intelligence.’’ (2010, British Dailymail)
Furthermore, the recent report of Singman’s relevant research pointed that using electronic equipment for long period of time would affect children’s attention as well as their social skills. In addition, a child who watches the popular 3D movies frequently would affect his/her perspective development. Based on Sigman’s view, I have the urge to read more literatures, and thus explore the impact of technology usage on children in early years.
Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299. doi:10.1207/S1532785XMEP0303_03
Bandura promoted the concept of “social cognitive theories”. In this article, it focuses on discussing the increasing role of the media and the effects of modeling. He indicates that behaviour can be learned via social prompts, and values are learned through human modeling behaviour. Bandura’s theoretical structure describes how observational learning including direct pathway and socially meditated pathway that influence extensive behaviour changes. Bandura puts a lot of effort of developing social cognition study and has published many books and journal articles about this theory. This article links social cognition theory with the roles of electronic media and mass communication, gives us an in-depth understanding of how children change their behaviour based on the models of others. Media has strong impact in the learning of social roles and responsibilities.
Cicconi, M. (2014). Vygotsky meets technology: A reinvention of collaboration in the early childhood mathematics classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(1), 57-65. doi:10.1007/s10643-013-0582-9
This journal article examines the implications of Vygotsky’s social learning theory in the early- childhood classroom. The findings suggest that the use of educational technology increases children’s confidence and willingness to share their knowledge, fostering communication and collaboration in learning mathematics. The author discusses the use of three web-based tools, Voke, VoiceThread, and Vodcasts, which engage children with great enthusiasm, and empowering them of all abilities. The research also indicates that children, who armed with instructional technology, the amount of interaction, collaboration and scaffolding are increased. As an educator, the author stresses that the practical instructional technology demonstrates positive impact in learning where children could collaborate effectively.
Elliott-Hall, G. (2013). Learning together with iPads. Every Child, 19 (4), 22-23.
In this article, Giulia Hall gives an overview of how iPads enrich the learning environment and enhance children’s learning. She states the importance of using iPads to support young children and meeting their learning needs. With iPads, the selection of learning activities is mainly focus on literacy and numeracy. In order to function it well, teacher should develop rules for children by following instructions while using iPads in class. Hall also describes the advantages of using iPads. They are: documenting children’s learning, keeping track on children’s learning progress, developing independence of individual learning and promoting interaction by grouping kids in pairs and using iPads as a positive reinforcer to reward for positive and on-task behaviour. In summary, Hall indicates that iPads helps provide more guidance and modeling in a small group setting, children’s experience with digital technologies enable them to interact, share ideas and create new things.
Haddon, L. (2013). Mobile media and children. Mobile Media & Communication, 1(1), 89-95. doi:10.1177/2050157912459504
This article examines a range of research issues with regards to children and digital devices. They are 1.Children’s screen time. There is a growing trend that children spend more time in screen activities; 2. The need for establishing rules of children’s use of technology devices in different social spaces; 3. Challenges of handling the increment of technological options, in terms of age and social norms; 4. The impact on children’s cognitive development; 5. Problems that associate with parental involvement and the difficulties of monitoring, such as bedroom privacy; 6.The potential growth of new logistical challenges, including problems with picking children up in the car; 7. The possession of digital devices within peer groups. All these issues were discussed in various contexts with different cultural perspective towards children and adolescents.
McCarthy, C. (2014). Should babies and toddlers use iPads? Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Commentaries on Health.
This article discusses the impact of traditional screen devices towards toddlers in terms of interaction and creativity. It also made contrast between traditional devices and iPads. The author stresses the ideal activity for toddlers is to involve active and exploratory play together with adult, displaying a sense of human touch. Toddlers sitting long time in front of a screen leads to problem with attention. Children imitating TV program with high level of violence can make them more aggressive. In comparison between iPads and traditional screen devices, the former has the quality of better than play toys, more interactive and at the same time tailor to children’s age and learning needs. The author advises that old fashioned play is better than an iPad for children’s development, the amount of time for children to play iPad should not exceed an hour a day. In addition, parents can refer to the reviews on the selected Apps and determine its level of suitability for their children and interact with them.
Sigman, A. (2012). Time for a view on screen time. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 97(11), 935. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302196
The author indicates that watching screen media is the main leisure of children in this computer age. Children nowadays spent high amount of time on all sorts of screen devices. It has become part of their lives. Undesirable information affects children’s cognitive development. Prolong usage of view screen media contributes to personal health risk, lacking physical activities. Children who watch television and consume food affect its duration of consumption, as it extends beyond the usual time of watching. Body fat mass increment is largely affected by continuous hours of TV watching. Depriving physical activities result in unfavorable health condition. Extensive computer games addiction causes subsequent attention problems and in childhood and even late adolescence stage. Children, who spent more time watching television or using computer exhibit higher level of psychological and emotional difficulties,
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Social skills diminish as more new technologies skills are acquired. A reduction in screen exposure significantly elevates improvement in child health and development. The impact of uncontrolled and unscreened media that are made available to the children is generally unhealthy life styles.
Sherman, T. M. & Kurshan, B. L. (2005). Constructing learning: Using technology to support teaching for understanding. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(5), 10-39.
In this journal article Sheman and Kurshan advocates that online mass communication allows students and adults to work together from apart effectively solving specific problems under their umbrella of advance technology. It is a tool where students can utilize and maximize their learning capability even from home. Technology is considered as multiple platforms for social interactions. Through network learning platform, students and teachers could discuss questions in different locations, which enables students to express their thoughts as well as expanding their understanding. Technology-based activities not only develop students’ intelligence but also facilitating their collaboration of problem solving. Sherman and Kurshan conclude that through organised interaction, it becomes another form of social activities.
Stein, M. T. (2011). The effects of media use in children. Journal Watch. Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, doi:10.1056/PA201112280000002
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) conducted a research on media exposure in early childhood, and its effect on children and adolescents in 2011. In the process of the survey, children under the age of 2 denote that 90% of children watch media, such as television and videos. At age 3, 30%of children have televisions in their room, which drastically affects their sleep pattern. Over exposure to TV affects their speech expression, a drop in their executive function and attention problems. Delayed sleep, obesity and fatigue results from over exposure of TV watching are unhealthy practices. Parental intervention, guidance and discussion with their children are necessary to handle their emotions and social behaviour. This article provides strong evidence of supported data in terms of the children’s behaviour in the presence of long duration media exposure.
Suazo-Garcia, B., Attewell, P. A., & Battle, J. (2003). Computers and young children: Social benefit or social problem? Social Forces, 82(1), 277-296. doi:10.1353/sof.2003.0075
This research involves school-age children and examines the correlates of time spent at home with computers. It reviews the popular topic of whether computing promotes or reduces young children’s cognitive skills, well-being aspects and learning development. It indicates that computers rob away some normal experiences, such as outdoor activities and social interaction time with peers or other adults. Most children rely largely on playing computer games and stay away from pure educational programs and activities. It reflects on a decline in participating social networks and tends to be more of a loner. The research also reveals that computer integration should be implemented into classroom teaching as many school works are done via computer. Heavy usage of home computers for eight or more hours weekly is linked to less time on physical activities. Furthermore, long term sitting can cause vision problem and bad posture problem. This article highlights on the importance of reducing time spent on home computer.
Wood, E., Specht, J., Willoughby, T., & Mueller, J. (2008). Integrating computer technology in early childhood education environments: Issues raised by early childhood educators. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 54(2), 210.
This study explores the issues faced by the educators with regard to the integration of technology in early childhood education environment. It addresses different perspectives of the children, parents and the educators through the survey responses. Educator pointed that computers is not age-appropriate for very young children, it limits their social interaction with peers and the engagement of social problem-solving. Through the group discussions, they revealed their concerns about the potential loss of traditional educational formats, such as hands-on learning experiences. However, they did acknowledge that computers are the useful learning tool for older children, as it allows children to share information and learn independently. This article discusses the role of computers and provides a better understanding to parents and early childhood educators.
Conclusion: Technology is a double sided sword, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Its application depends largely on the integrity of the user. For instance, iPads are like cars and the iPad user are like the drivers. Many accidents are caused by reckless drivers, the problem lies in the mentality and the skills of the driver, rather than the function of the car. As our children are innocent, dependent and vulnerable, parental guidance and engagement is crucial at this junction. Constant monitoring and interaction with the children’s engagement with their iPad is of utmost importance. Parents and teachers involvement in constructive learning with the children, results in more closely monitored in their engaging activities. Establishing rules, controlled timing on iPads usage and careful selection of suitable Apps are the key settings towards healthy learning environment. It promotes their mental and social development in a positive way. We can simply say that a healthy apple is attained when the above mentioned criteria are met.
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