Teachers’ and Parents’ Perspectives of Digital Technology in the Lives of Young Children

Year: 2010

Author: Fox, Jillian L., Diezmann, Carmel M., Grieshaber, Susan J.

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The pervasiveness of technology in the 21st Century has meant that adults and children live in a society where digital devices are integral to their everyday lives and participation in society. How we communicate, learn, work, entertain ourselves, and even shop is influenced by technology. Therefore, before children begin school they are potentially exposed to a range of learning opportunities mediated by digital devices. These devices include microwaves, mobile phones, computers, and console games such as Playstations® and iPods®. InQueensland preparatory classrooms and in the homes of these children, teachers and parents support and scaffold young children’s experiences, providing them with access to a range of tools that promote learning and provide entertainment. This paper examines teachers’ and parents’ perspectives and considers whether they are techno-optimists who advocate for and promote the inclusion of digital technology, or whether they are they techno-pessimists, who prefer to exclude digital devices from young children’s everyday experiences. An exploratory, single case study design was utilised to gather data from three teachers and ten parents of children in the preparatory year. Teacher data was collected through interviews and email correspondence. Parent data was collected from questionnaires and focus groups. All parents who responded to the research invitation were mothers. The results of data analysis identified a misalignment among adults’ perspectives. Teachers were identified as techno-optimists and parents were identified as techno-pessimists with further emergent themes particular to each category being established. This is concerning because both teachers and mothers influence young children’s experiences and numeracy knowledge, thus, a shared understanding and a common commitment to supporting young children’s use of technology would be beneficial. Further research must investigate fathers’ perspectives of digital devices and the beneficial and detrimental roles that a range of digital devices, tools, and entertainment gadgets play in 21st Century children’s lives.