Techno-savvy toddlers

by Dawn Kelly. Technology is all around us – mobile phones, computers, CCTV cameras, interactive toys and games – but should we really encourage young children to ‘play’ with technology?

Baby holding remote control

Introduction

It’s always worth remembering that the best teacher is an interested adult and the best friend is a playmate to share and have fun with. But technology can also provide a rich learning tool for pre-schoolers.

Children love its ‘magic’ qualities, where things can happen at the touch of a button. On local trips to the shops, young children love catching sight of themselves on CCTV screens and pressing the buttons at the pedestrian crossing. It also gives them a sense of control, something that is very powerful when you’re a small person in a big world.

How CBeebies can help

CBeebies has many programmes that involve or incorporate technology. Some of these shows – such as Come Outside and Tikkabilla - explain the workings of technology, whilst programmes such as Carrie and David’s Pop Shop and Iconicles explore technology, inventions and the creativity involved.

And, of course, the CBeebies website is packed with amazing interactive technology.

Why not let your child have a go at a magic paintbox game, such as the Mister Maker one? Fun and exciting (and less messy than the real thing!) it allows your child to experiment with colour and different shapes, patterns and textures at the press of a button or the click of a mouse.

Alternatively, if your child enjoys music, then why not have a go at the ZingZillas’ Big Coconut Adventure? Your child can get their creative juices flowing by trying out different instruments and playing various musical games, including a matching sounds task.

How to make a magic moment

Talking to children as they explore different types of technology will help them to see why things happen and how things work. Don’t be afraid of technology or think it is has nothing to offer young children.

They have been born into the digital world and encouraging them to make use of this technology will ensure that they develop confidence in making it work for them.

How about letting your little one (with your help, of course) create a photo album full of photos taken with your digital camera/mobile phone, and then printed off from your computer? A lovely memento for you to keep and look back on fondly in future years.

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Top tips

  • Toddlers can learn through technology. For
  • example: 
  • When out and about, young children
  • can press buttons at traffic crossings.Visits to the supermarket,
  • railway station and airport terminal introduce children to digital screens,
  • electronic announcements and interactive maps.Toddlers are fascinated by sound
  • and music, and love ‘virtual’ (computerised) musical instruments.They also love a spot of
  • pretend play with battery-operated, interactive toys such as pretend mobile phones
  • and child-sized vacuum cleaners and food mixers. Try to make sure these gadgets
  • are still interesting without batteries.At home, let your little one help you to program the
  • washing machine, television and microwave. These actions have a purpose in
  • everyday life, helping them to make sense of the world.

Expert opinion

Children are fascinated by machines in the home so encourage them to recognise numbers, read the on/off switch and tell one sound from another.

Help them to load videos, DVDs and CDs. This will develop their curiosity and their fine motor skills (coordination of small muscle movements). It also teaches children how to treat equipment correctly and with respect.

Dawn Kelly, Baby & Child Development Expert, (RGN, RSCN, BSc, PGDipHV, PGDipEd, RNT, PGDipRes)

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