Children and Technology: a Tool for Child Development

Canavan Corr, A. (2016). Children and Technology: a Tool for Child Development.
In the year 2000 Barnardos’ team in Dun Laoghaire decided to introduce ICT (information and communications technology) technology into its direct work with children, following research into such developments in services in Europe. A successful application for funding to Ericssons allowed a project to be piloted in family support services in this area. The project was subsequently evaluated and the many lessons learned during the implementation of the project are shared in the publication Paint, Sand and Computers which outlines the history and implementation of the project from its inception. It demonstrates how ICT was successfully integrated into the learning environment. It shows how technology can be used in a variety of ways (in pre-school and after school settings, in individual and group therapeutic work and by parent and toddler groups).The review clearly demonstrates the many positive benefits to children including improved emotional development, increased language and literacy development, improved cognitive skills and general knowledge and increased self esteem ICT is now an integral and seamless part of Barnardos’ family support work in this area of Dublin. In 2003 another ICT project was piloted by Barnardos, this time in Galway City. Funded by the Children’s Hour Fund, Computer Characters aimed to increase and improve access to and usage of information technology as a tool for learning by disadvantaged children and families. Participation of the children and their families in the design, operation and evaluation of the project was an integral part of the project. This participatory IT project for children which involved the provision of a 10-week training course to six specially targeted groups of children was highly successful. The evaluation of Computer Characters shows that positive outcomes were achieved for participants in terms of skills development and enjoyment.