Parents of toddlers often gush about the kid’s intelligence displayed by unlocking and browsing through the smart phone. While it is important for the children to be exposed to technology, overuse may be detrimental. Children below the age of two must be limited to less than an hour of screen time and no more. Studies show that prolonged use of screen media leads to lack of attention, poor academic performance and can impair development of empathy, problem solving skills, peer interaction and unstructured play. If screen media is a bane, the why use the same in preschool education?
Learning pattern of children
Those involved in preschool education in Singapore agree that children are sensor-motor learners meaning that learning is through the combined effort of all the body-senses. The rate of learning is greatly increased when they are exposed to how something feels, look, smells and sounds like. Connection in the child’s brain is built through personal and direct interaction which becomes automatic with repeated exposure. Thus, the growth pattern can be manipulated while controlled. The neural connections that develop strengthen with repetition and future learning follows the pre-formed channels.
Learning through screen media
Since children are exposed to screen media even before they enter a formal educational setting of a preschool, their brains are wired to learning in a different way. Consider two children: a toddler who strikes down on the piano keys displayed on an iPad and another of the same age, learning from playing on a real piano, the neural connections associated with each’s activity is different given their medium of learning. Since this connection is pre-formed, teaching through the same aid will have a greater impact.
Screen media becomes an important tool when the preschoolers are introduced to unfamiliar concepts that aren’t commonly seen like snow, for example. As they learn pictorially, images on screen media feels more real as compared to a chart picture.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to screen media based education: for and against. Those for active learning (not involving screen media) claim that comparative studies of learning with and without screen media do not show a significant improvement in learning abilities of the former: screen media learning is not more effective than active learning.
In conclusion, screen media can be used as a learning tool. A boom in the mobile application world has introduced many interactive learning apps appropriate for children of all ages. The only challenge remains restricting the exposure time.