Advantages & Disadvantages of Computer Technology in Preschool
By Steve Lander
In the beginning of the computer age, the only educational institutions that used computers in the classroom were universities. By the 1960s and 1970s, some high school students were beginning to get access to them. The 1980s personal computer revolution started to put computers into middle schools and elementary schools, and today's computers and tablets are finding their ways into preschools. Whether this is a good thing remains a matter of significant debate.
One of the key benefits of introducing computer technology into the classroom is that it familiarizes children with it at a young age. Given the amount of time that we all spend interacting with computers -- a broad category of devices that includes smartphones, in-car navigation and entertainment systems, ATM machines, and even smart TVs -- technological literacy is not just a luxury, it is a necessity. Getting children used to technology early will help them to live in modern society.
The human brain has evolved to consume visual information. For most of our experience on the planet, we didn't have classrooms, lectures or formal languages. We had the world around us, which gave us visual cues. Integrating computer technology into classrooms gives preschoolers the opportunity to see more things than they can by looking at wall displays or books.
The best way to help a preschooler develop is with interaction. Putting them in front of a TV screen to watch a children's video may entertain them, but it does not challenge them and help their cognitive abilities grow. Good computer software is interactive, keeping preschoolers engaged and learning as they are entertained.
The biggest risk in introducing computer technology into preschools is that it increases the likelihood that children will be exposed to inappropriate content. Preschool-aged childrens' ability to process our complicated world is limited, and a computer brings that world into the classroom. While this risk can be mitigated through the use of filtering software, or even by disconnecting the computer from the network, it is a legitimate concern.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.