Undoubtedly, the world of education technology is an exciting one as an array of creative ideas are being actualized to improve the lives of people across the globe. Yet, this technology is also bringing unprecedented changes and one area warranting particular inquiries is early childhood use of technology and media.
Ample research has been conducted to prove the vitality of early childhood education. It is during these years that a foundation is set for cognitive, physical, language, motor and social-emotional development (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016). Face-to-Face interactions and hands-on engagement with materials by infants and toddlers are two of the most important parts of this process. Many suggest that passive time spent in front of a screen or comparable technology has proven harmful to children - especially those under two years old as they cannot process the two-dimensional information on their own.
Yet an element of interactivity with digital media has also proven effective. The revered American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their stance that no child under two years should be exposed to digital media to say that children under two may benefit from some exposure to digital media, provided there is an adult to guide them through and interact with them.
Evidence suggests that investment in early childhood is worth a lot. In terms of traditional early childhood education programs, economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman has effectively demonstrated that high quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children can have a 13% return of investment (The Heckman Equation). According to his research, “early childhood education fosters cognitive skills along with attentiveness, motivation, self-control and sociability—the character skills that turn knowledge into know-how and people into productive citizens.”
The presence of technology is going nowhere and today’s children will know its influence in a way we cannot imagine. Products targeted at infants and toddlers have the potential to benefit society and the economy in an unlimited number of ways, so long as they are built considering the importance and nature of human development at that early stage of life.