Screen time helps – not harms, your child’s learning

“Not all screen time is bad…”
Early childhood learning

A new study, conducted University of British Columbia, found young children can learn and retain information just as well from a session of screen time than from face-to-face instruction.

A team of researchers from the establishment’s department of psychology analysed two groups of 43 children aged four to eight. Group one were quizzed on animal facts using an iPad, while group two were taught such knowledge from an instructor.

Through a test that followed, the researchers were able to conclude that both groups demonstrated the same levels of comprehension.

The results came as perhaps a shock to some parents, who are understandably sceptical of the effects screen time may have on their child’s learning abilities.

“Parents currently have a fairly negative view of interactive media,” says senior author and UBC psychology professor, Susan Birch.

“When parents are asked the top three reasons they give their children a mobile device, learning is not one of them.

“What our research tells us is that, while interactive media can never replace face-to-face interaction, parents might not recognise the potential role that it can play in education and learning.”

While prior research has found TV shows and video to be, for the most part, ineffective for some types of learning, educational children’s iPad games (which make up a whopping 80 per cent of apps) have found to be beneficial and convenient.

While face-to-face learning is imperative for both educational and social skills, the study authors believes that interactive technologies could be extremely beneficial in complementing a child’s classroom learning.

“I think that parents are right to be concerned about how much screen time their children are having,” Birch says.

“I’m not saying that interactive technology could ever or should ever replace face-to-face interaction, but I think what’s interesting is that perhaps, used in moderation, it can be useful to supplement learning.”

The new findings come as technology classes become mandatory in Queensland schools. Kids as young as four-years-old will now undertake coding and robotics classes as a compulsory part of their curriculum from as soon as next years.

Despite some protestations from concerned parents, educators believe the digital learning classes will help equip the young generation with the necessary skills to attain jobs in the future.

“We are on a learning journey ourselves but I think when you crunch the numbers in regards to the skills young people are going to need in the future, then we owe it to them to help them take part in the digital economy,” says State Education Minister Kate Jones.

“Their world is a digital world and they need to have the intellectual capacity to back that up, and that is exactly what the digital curriculum does.”

The new regime takes after England, Belgium, Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands, where coding is already a necessary part of education.

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