Digital technologies include tablets, mobile phones, laptopsand computers, but also technologies without screens, such as digital cameras, voice assistants, digital toys, smart (internet-connected) toys, walkie-talkies and activity trackers.
Digital media and devices have become ubiquitous in the lives of children and families around the world, making the development of digital skills an important part of children’s learning. Digital technologies can provide exciting opportunities for playing, learning, creating, and communicating, but their use is also accompanied by concern about the impact of digital technologies and digital media on children’s development.
Drawing conclusions about children’s use of digital and screen-based technologies and the associated impact of these technologies on children’s development and wellbeing is not easy because of the range of variation involved in the use of technologies, as well as the variation in children’s development patterns and the influence of other contextual factors. These difficulties in researching the impact of digital technologies on children’s development are reflected in conflicting research findings. Without clear evidence of absence of harm, many researchers and public health agencies take a cautious approach and push for minimal use of digital technologies and screens, particularly for very young children.
There is not enough scientific evidence to determine how much screen time is actually harmful. This means that it is important that teachers focus on careful selection of different forms of digital technology. Teachers should engage with and mediate children’s interactions with technology in ways which minimise the possibility of negative effects and emphasise positive learning opportunities. Guided interaction and support are important and enable teachers to offer sensitive and meaningful assistance through their physical presence, interest, questions and suggestions. The concept of digital play promotes children’s exploration and experimentation with a range of digital activities that are linked to, and enhance, non-digital play and learning.
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