How to Be a Media Mentor | Early Childhood Education

child using a tablet

Technology has changed the landscape of learning not only for adults, but for children too. You need only board a plane or sit down at a restaurant to see children occupied with a tablet, game, or other form of technology. While you may appreciate the distraction that technology affords as a parent or care provider, you likely also worry about what your young children are viewing and the risky behavior they may be learning from different types of entertainment.

The recently published Family Engagement in the Digital Age: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors discusses the ways you can be a role model and teacher to young children using technology. Dr. Tamecca Fitzpatrick and Deidre Jones, faculty members at Ashford University’s College of Education and early childhood education professionals, add their insights on this hot topic.

Why is it important for parents and care providers to be involved in young children’s learning?

child laughing holding a book

Deidre: “The quality of care for young children in group settings is greatly influenced by the degree to which families and care providers see themselves as partners in the care and nurturing of the child. Families who are involved in their child’s learning are more likely to perceive technology as a resource for teaching their child. It is through a feeling of partnership, even with technology platforms, that families gain confidence in child care programs. This partnership allows parents and children to share each other’s special knowledge in order to expand their personal understanding of the child and find ways to meet the child’s needs. This feeling of confidence is then sensed by children, promoting their feelings of comfort and security in the child care setting. The best technology programs easily allow for family involvement and create ways for family members to contribute to the platform.”

How can parents and educators guide young children in technology use?

mother and young daughter in the city

Tamecca: “We need to embrace innovative ways to create a diverse learning environment in which learners can benefit from the talents of various stakeholder groups, such as family and community resources. We should maximize traditional opportunities to communicate and learn with children, while collaborating with kids and actively engaging with them in the technology learning environment. As educators and parents, we can share ideas, ask questions, and rely on each other for technology best practices. We need to demonstrate to young children how to have conversations offline so they can mirror our behaviors. We need to encourage the exchange of ideas and learning by being the example ourselves.”

How can care providers and parents work together to guide learning through technology?

children using a mobile device

Deidre: “It is important to note that family involvement in technology-based child learning programs is not always easy, but it is a valuable part of the relationship between family, child, and learning. Successful learning-family relationships are anchored in a philosophy of partnership between both parties. To be successful, family involvement needs to respond to families’ needs, and the caregiving setting needs to be ‘family friendly.’ Lastly, successful family involvement in learning programs rely on a variety of strategies that encourage family participation at different levels, starting with the technology itself.”

 

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Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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