As we mentioned in the last blog, NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Media recently released an updated statement on technology and young children. In it, both advocate for using media in developmentally appropriate ways. For young children this means connecting it to play.
There are basically five different types of play: motor/physical, creative or constructive, social, fantasy or free play, and games with rules. It is important to facilitate each within your child’s experience to promote overall, healthy development.
Media and Technology have long been viewed as inhibitors of play in children and thus negatively impacting development. What NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center actually uncovered however is that it there is more to it than that. Studies now reveal that there are ways interactive experiences actually work to promote different types of play and thus work to actually support and facilitate learning and relationships as opposed to limiting them.
For example, let us consider social play. One study revealed that children working in pairs or small groups at a computer displayed the same traits as those interacting without. These children learned social “rules” like give and take, reciprocity, cooperation, and sharing. In addition, educators can now use tools like the video cameras in phones to help shy children interact more by encouraging them to seek out conversations through “interviews”.
In addition, there is evidence to support physical play. With Wii and X-box and other game consoles, the whole phenomenon of “exergames” has gained popularity. These games require players to be active and to engage/ compete with others. They quite literally get kids off the couch and give them more active ways to be part of this media based world.
Perhaps the most prevalent type of play is constructive and/or creative play. There are many examples of this on the Web, as young children are allowed to blog and create other things using images. They can color and record sounds. They can build by clicking and dragging simulated blocks on top of one another, etc.
So you see, interactive media can be useful in promoting the healthy development of children. Not to be confused with more passive media that requires viewing only, interactive media is specifically created to facilitate active and creative use and response. As an adult, taking an extra moment to think critically about the overall experience and linking it to as many particulars about impact and the individual child or children is vital when making decisions about activities. Just as you have your child drink milk to promote strong bones and teeth, strategically using media and technology to teach content, enhance behaviors and strengthen relationships is possible when cause/effect is considered.