ChildLinks Issue 3: Digital Childhood

Barnardos. (2014). ChildLinks Issue 3: Digital Childhood.
One of the defining features of contemporary childhood in many societies is that children grow up in a world where digital technologies are prominent and taken for granted. There is no doubt that interactive digital technologies have become much more widespread and accessible to children from an early age, influencing children's play, interaction and even identities. A major question is whether these new influences really shape new childhood, or they represent only new ways of satisfying children's unchanging psychological and social needs. Research published in December 2014 by the National Literacy Trust in the UK found that 91.7% of children aged 3 to 5 have access to touchscreen technology at home, and access to such technology in early years setting has doubled since 2013. This use of technology brings with it many benefits but also challenges. In this issue of ChildLinks, Debra Harwood from Brock University, Canada looks at how children are accessing and using technology and examines the learning benefits. She also looks at the critical role of parents and educators in framing digital play, which appears key to insuring the quality of children’s interactions within digital worlds. The LITtLE (Linking Innovative Technology to Learning in the Early Years) research project, conducted by a team of early childhood researchers in IT Sligo, also looks at the new smart play opportunities for today’s children and if/how these are incorporated into early years pedagogy. Early Childhood Ireland surveyed 72 early childhood educators across private and community, sessional and full day care settings to explore the current role of technology in their everyday practice in an effort to explore how early childhood educators view and use technology within the curriculum. Issues raised include educator’s confidence and competence; the availability and use of technology in early childhood settings; the beliefs and rationale for technology; and how it impacts on children’s learning and development, health and well-being, and play and creativity. Malin Nilsen of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden discusses a recently conducted research study, the aim of which was to examine what kind of activities evolve when children and teachers in a Swedish preschool used tablet computers. The study also focused on what kind of learning was made possible and how the children and teachers participated in these activities. As children get older the challenges associated with technology increase as they access more and more content and methods of communicating away from adult supervision. Barnardos and St. Nicholas Montessori College look at the issues around social media and how they impact on children today.