Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Influence of Young Children's Use of Technology on Their Learning: A Review

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Influence of Young Children's Use of Technology on Their Learning: A Review

Article excerpt

Introduction

Contemporary young children are part of the generation of digital natives (Fleer, 2011; Prensky, 2001a, 2001b). Young children in this study refer to children aging from 0 to 8 years (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). They live in a world enveloped by technologies and use technologies in their daily life (Hague & Payton, 2010; Plowman, Stevenson, Stephen, & McPake, 2012). Many countries recognize the increasing role of technology in children's lives. They emphasize the development of technology-integrated curricula that are developmentally appropriate for young children and that help to bridge young children's digital experiences at home and in school (Mawson, 2003; McKenney & Voogt, 2009; Plowman, Stevenson, McPake, Stephen, & Adey, 2011).

Because of the rapid development of technologies, they have changed children's lives and ways of learning, particularly in the past ten years. Researchers have urged a rethinking of the roles of technology in young children's development and consequently the development of learning theories and curricula that meet the needs of contemporary children (Fleer, 2011; Yelland, 2011). Although many researchers and educators have advocated for the importance of young children's learning with technology and devoted themselves to investigating and implementing technology-related practices, the influence of young children's use of technologies on their development is still controversial. Some researchers believe that the use of technologies may impede these children's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development (e.g., Armstrong & Casement, 2000; Cordes & Miller, 2000), while others support the use of technologies in improving young children's development in the aforementioned domains (e.g., Clements & Sarama, 2003; Plowman & McPake, 2013; Plowman & Stephen, 2003; Yelland, 2011).

Such discussion surrounds one question about which early childhood educators have been concerned: are the technology-related practices developmentally appropriate for young children (Radich, 2013)? In terms of developmentally appropriate practices, knowledgeable adults play important roles in scaffolding young children's learning within the zone of proximal development (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978). Researchers are thus concerned with the learning effect on children between adult-facilitated and technology-assisted learning. For example, de Jong and Bus (2004) conducted a study to compare children's learning outcomes after they listened to adults'storybook reading and read e-books on their own. Another example of developmental appropriate practice is that children learn abstract concepts through manipulating concrete objects (Dunn, 2001; Hsin, 2012). Researchers have thus debated the effects of manipulating physical materials and virtual materials on children's learning of science or mathematic concepts (Clements & Sarama, 2003; Zacharia, Loizou, & Papaevripidou, 2012). Moreover, promoting the development of social skills is considered one of the important developmentally appropriate practices for young children (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). Some researchers have argued that technology may impede young children's social skills because children develop these skills through in-person interaction, and their use of various technologies keeps them from such interaction (Armstrong & Casement, 2000). In contrast, some researchers have indicated that technology in fact promotes children's social development in various ways (Infante et al., 2010). Researchers on both sides argue that the practices they advocate are developmentally appropriate. However, such binary discussion can lead researchers and educators to overlook the complex relationships between children's use of technology and their learning. We therefore aim to provide a typology for effectively conceptualizing the interplay among critical factors that influence children's learning with technology. …

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