Since digital technologies entered the realm of education, there has been strong debate as to whether they are appropriate, useful, or even harmful for young children. The concept of ‘screen time’ has been debated with concern (well supported by research) that sitting in front of a computer screen can be detrimental to children’s posture, muscular development and body weight, as well as to their eyesight and attention span. Recommendations have suggested the exposure of preschoolers to computers should be limited to 20 minutes, and for those under 2, nil.
Digital technologies are becoming increasingly mobile, making previous concerns about posture, obesity and screen ‘radiation’ redundant. Yet, there is no clear guidance about young children’s appropriate usage of mobile technologies. This is worrisome given that tablet technologies are rapidly entering many households. There is evidence that children as young as 6 months old are becoming regular tablet users.
Our current research focuses on young children’s use of digital tablets. So far, it indicates that it is not the use of digital tablets themselves that is an issue. Rather, the concern is the quality of the apps children are exposed to, and the social contexts within which the apps are used.