What is it about?

In the article, I present and analyze national and international research on young children's and ecuator's use of digital technology in early childhood eduation and care (ECEC) institutions. The purpose of the article is to identify patterns and discuss key perspectives from current research that has been published between 2010 and 2020. The analysis resulted in five key perspectives: 1) digital play is real play; 2) disconnected contexts; 3) teachers’ knowledge and beliefs; 4) learning with and from technology; and 5) children as creators. On the one hand, the included studies show various ways in which digital technology can open up new possibilities for children when it is included in educational practice. On the other hand, the studies also highlight multiple concerns regarding the suitability of digital technology for young children. However, the suitability depends on how the technology is used in the pedagogical practice, in which teachers play a significant role. Several of the studies highlight at need to strengthen educator's professional digital competence. Young children’s play practices today are characterised as a mix of technology, various digital toys and traditional toys. For the children, digital play is just as real as traditional play, and it is important that educators recognize and value it. I want to emphasize the importance that educators in ECEC have knowledge of and recognize the children's varied experiences with digital technology — and at the same time support and help the children when they explore, create, play and learn with technology.

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Why is it important?

The findings demonstrate the importance of defining digital technology in a broad way. Further, several of the articles highlight teachers’ reflections and judgements regarding how they can implement and embed digital technology into their pedagogical practice.


Based on the findings, I suggest that a more explicit focus on digital technology be embedded into pedagogical practice in national ECEC curricula, as well as in national guidelines for EC teacher education.

Marianne Undheim
Universitetet i Stavanger

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Children and teachers engaging together with digital technology in early childhood education and care institutions: a literature review, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, August 2021, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/1350293x.2021.1971730.
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