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Embracing Media as a Form of Learning Tool

The media isn’t our enemy; use it wisely and encourage learning.

Media as a Learning Tool

Today, a variety of technologies surround us in our homes, offices, and even schools. Although, conflicting views are all around us regarding the use of media, when used wisely, technology and media can support learning and relationships. Such tools can bring about enjoyable and motivating experiences that can optimize our children’s potential.

Young children live in a world of interactive media and technology - Technology and interactive media are here to stay. The prevalence of technology and media in the lives of our children means they are spending more hours in front of and engaged with screens of all kinds, including televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, handheld game devices, and game consoles (Common Sense Media, 2011). With guidance and the right usage, these various technological tools can be used to our advantage and harnessed for learning and crucial development. On the other hand, without guidance, inappropriate usage can interfere with learning and development.

Principles to Guide the Appropriate Use

Appropriate technology use balances and enhances the use of essential learning materials in the early childhood setting to be integrated as a part of daily routine (Anderson 2000). It should not replace activities such as creative expression and play, motor skills activity, outdoor experiences, and social interactions that are (equally) important for children’s development. Instead, these tools should be used to support learning and to expand their accessibility to new knowledge.

Next, effective uses include these principles, it should be active, hands-on, engaging and gives the child control with provision of adaptive scaffolds to ease task accomplishment. For example, you can read a story to your child in traditional print and book form or even as an interactive e-book on an electronic device (e.g., Ipad) where the child gets to direct the activity/reading.

Benefits of Technology Use and Media

1) Resource for new activities: Media can help parents identify activities that promote children’s STEM learning or various other learning (e.g., craft work). For example, parents visited blogs like The Maker Mom for fun STEM project ideas, or Pinterest for fun craft activities.

2) Learn STEM concepts: You can use outlets such as YouTube to show your child videos of animals or situations new to them such as clams or natural phenomena like earthquakes.

3) Incorporate assistive technologies apt for children with special needs: For example, assistive technologies can provide text-to-speech (e.g., Kurzweil 3000), speech-to-text (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking), word prediction capabilities (e.g., WordQ), and graphic organizers (e.g., Inspiration).

4) Explore digital storytelling: You can create digital books with your child where they can even illustrate drawings and/or read along as the narrator.

5) Make digital audio or video files to document their progress: This not only helps provide good date filing but also allows us to witness the small wins and celebrate them as we go.

Media is not the enemy of learning but can be used to enhance young childrens understanding of the world around them. Use it wisely, use it well – bring a whole new world to your child’s learning experience.

Written by Joey.


Common Sense Media. 2011. Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America. San Francisco: Author. research/zero-eight-childrens-media-use-america

Anderson, G.T. 2000. “Computers in a Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum.” Young Children 55 (2): 90–93.

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