In September 2021 the government’s revised Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage notably omitted an Early Learning Goal referring to the use of technology. This created many discussions in Early Years forums. Those for and against. But is technology important for children?

The past two years have highlighted many of the wonderful attributes of technology. It is through technology that we remained connected with loved ones during national lockdowns. People continued to work. People continued to learn. The Early Learning Goal citing: ‘Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes’ was undoubtedly addressed.

As with all aspects of the Statutory Framework, the Early Learning Goals provide a framework for educators; setting standards and creating some parity for the learning experiences of children throughout England. One thing it is not is an exhaustive list of things for children to be able to ‘do’ by the time they are 5.

Children engaging in technology can be a wonderful thing, the quality of educational apps have improved significantly during my time in the classroom. The integration of digital learning journeys such as Tapestry and online learning platforms such as Seesaw have enhanced the learning environment. It is also pleasing to note the commitment of technology brands and those who create educational resources to delve into more options for offline opportunities.

I myself find it quite marvellous to engage with technology to enrich learning experiences, and sometimes as a standalone activity; a fun gimmicky monster is often a more desirable companion for letter and word play than me, as Mummy or the Teacher! I am always impressed with the dexterity and complexity with which some children can engage with technological skills such as programming and coding. A daunting prospect to many adults, children are at ease with this digital vocabulary and skill set.

However, there is much research around the negative impact upon children and their development. From language delays to ‘links’ to neurodiversity there are those who believe that technology holds no valuable place in the Early Years. For older children there are growing concerns around the self esteem and mental well being of children associated with social media. Many children have access to a wider range of technology for more hours of the day than they did a decade ago and if we are honest the pandemic likely  increased the volume of both for most families. After having to live so much of our lives through technology even adults became somewhat jaded when it came to screen time.

Ultimately, life is all about balance. Too much of anything is never great for us. We have to make choices as parents and educators in regulating this balance, for and with our children. In the classroom I would actively work to balance the interests of a child who was spending all of their time completing puzzles; the same is true of a child who constantly migrated towards technology. I would hate to see digital experiences come at the detriment of other vital skills and experiences which help to shape young minds. Demonising screen time inevitably adds to the parenting guilt stack. As with most everything else; do what works for you and your child!