Yesterday I was at the NDNA conference in Coventry with all our managers and it was an excellent opportunity to hear updates on what is going on in the Early Years sector and to share best practice with many in our industry. One of the seminars was by Dr Sam Wass from Cambridge who is one of the experts on Channel 4’s very successful ‘Secret Life of a 4 year old’ series. He talked a lot about what our children now and in the future will have to cope with and interestingly after his talk one of the questions was, ‘will you give your baby access to a tablet?’. (His wife’s due date was yesterday, with their first child!). He was unequivocal, ‘Yes, but with restrictions’.
We cannot turn back time and technology is definitely here to stay, but our children need to have time ‘unplugged’ as well. This article discusses the research carried out on the subject recently; Anna Sosa in North Arizona University carried out an experiment which showed that where parents and small children were given a digital toy, rather than a traditional toy, the words that were used between them them were much fewer and they responded less to their children.
The various research projects conclude that technology should augment teaching (in the traditional sense) and should not replace. We think there is a place for technology in our nurseries, but always alongside traditional activities and there will never be a substitute in early years for a real person. Do ask in more detail if you are interested in how we use technology with each age group and let’s continue to create environments at home and at nursery which give children the stimulation and conversation they deserve!