As a psychologist, clients and friends, often ask me my opinion on children development and what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for them.
In the December 2011 edition of the Psychologist Magazine, Natalie Kucirkova, examines babies and toddlers use of technology (The Psychologist (2011), vol 24 (12), pgs. 938 – 940). An interesting statistic she quotes is that in 2009, more than 47% of the top 100 selling Apple apps were targeted at preschool or elementary aged children (Shuler, 2009), and that designers of apps are free to define how ‘educational’ their apps are themselves. Kucirkova reports that there is a lack of longitudinal research in this area and thus there are not publicised guidelines for parents. The article discusses why there may be a lack of research (technology changing too quickly, adult researchers not being up to speed themselves etc.), professionals/childcare providers’ approaches to new technology and some of the skills that digital literacy might promote. Kucirkova concludes that professionals working with children need to recognise the role of digital technologies on children’s lives and the advantages of acknowledging digital media in childhood research.
So my first advice to parents would be to try to learn with their children about new technologies, and to research the impact themselves by listening and observing their children, as each child learns and responds in different ways.
Dr. Katherine Boucher