The National Association for the Education of Young Children recently released their draft of the Technology Position Statement. NAEYC is an organization that is supposed to promote developmentally appropriate practice and play as two of its core values, but in recent years, that have begun to slide down hill and this draft, is another example of why I can't support them as a professional organization.
The draft, uses the same argument that many places, companies, schools and organizations use to push things on children that are unnecessary, "well, someday when they are out in the world, they will have to do it, so might as well start them young." This organization serves educators, parents and children from infancy to age eight. So you can see my concern, since they are supporting practices that will influence people who work with young children, NAEYC was the gold standard, everyone looked to them for guidance, support and for best practice models, policies and literature.
The Draft can be found on their website, www.naeyc.org
So When is Enough a Enough?
Technology with infants and toddlers is rarely, if ever necessary. My friend Faith, commented this, "Screen time for infants? I thought they need a heavy schedule of gentle body contact, interactive language, things to handle, and getting acquainted with their bodily functions. Where would tech fit into that? Same thing with toddlers, but then we add other children to the list of needs? Actually watching live squirrels and birds and flowers and.... watching people at work in the house and outside, exploring books, and a huge increase in spoken words. I used to use tech to find answers to questions, but also books, other people, and magazines. Just because they can use a mouse, doesn’t mean they should."
It is in my mind it is just plain wrong to encourage those who work with infants and toddlers to bring in and use "smart toy", e-books and other technology that removes the child from direct interaction with their world and their family/caregivers. Electronic toys are passive toys, they may be interesting because they blink, beep and move, but they offer little to no play value. When purchasing equipment, especially in these very difficult financial times, every dollar matters- daycares should be focusing in toys that help the child create the play for themselves, not the toy doing the work for them.
I am also greatly concerned with the mixed messages the document sends- on one hand, they note the very big disparity between those who have and those who don't, and then within the same paper, they comment on how technology can connect parents. It honestly feels elitist to me, and rather unrealistic of the life of so many parents and children.
Lastly, I am greatly concerned with the connection between organizations who are promoting technology and the research that was used to create this document. Personally, I find it questionable bordering on unethical to use such supporting evidence in your position statement.
In the last ten years, I have seen a noticeable shift in NAEYC's advertisements, their quality of articles and now, the addition of a technology position statement that promotes more technology in our children's lives, with very little, if any guidance, about appropriate ways, materials and uses. Sadly, I no longer feel comfortable supporting such an organization through my membership and feel less inclined to recommend them to others who are entering the field of early care and education.