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Top Three Safeguarding Challenges Around Technology in Early Years Settings

Never before has a generation grown up with such instant access to technology. Only time will tell if this will bring negative side effects. A recent Guardian article revealed that some leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs restrict their children’s access to technology. In fact, some 25% of Early Years Practitioners don’t believe technology has a place in their pre-school educational environment.

Increased use of ICT brings concerns around issues such as:

1. Lack of practitioner knowledge
Not all practitioners are confident in using ICT, and many lack access to (and information about) which technology is best suited to the EYFS curriculum.

Only 55% of practitioners feel confident sharing a story on a touch screen. According to this report, not all staff are asking questions about the ICT children use outside school; meaning they are missing a big opportunity to learn more about children’s learning preferences and to engage with parents.

These issues can be overcome with increased training and support. IT champions in each setting can help and, for small scale childminders in particular, a system for borrowing hardware and software has been recommended.

2. Security
EYFS settings struggle to provide the same technology access children enjoy at home due to security issues. Mobile devices don't have to be banned in early years settings; however, many nursery managers choose this policy as sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it so easy to share images of children.

Unlike ‘use your own tablet’ Digital Learning Journey solutions, LearningBook cannot be used for unauthorised distribution. All information requires a secure login, and is protected from data loss or cybercrime.

Of course, it’s also important that children’s access to the internet is supervised. According to this report, many parents understand the importance of locking phones and using technology in a social, shared living space.

3. Health issues
Issues around sedentary, unsociable lifestyles caused by over-reliance on technology are perhaps the main cause for concern among practitioners.

Analysis of 1,600 five-year-olds in Western Australia carried out in 2006 discovered a 28% reduction in children’s vigorous activity at weekends. Practitioners must ensure that technology is added to other activities, rather than replacing them, and that it encourages socialising.

What all this means for Digital Learning Journeys...
Of course, at LearningBook, we see the increased opportunity to create Digital Learning Journeys as a key advantage of classroom technology. Videos and pictures have been proven to be much more engaging for parents, much easier for practitioners to create and much easier for nursery managers and headteachers to store (information about each child and their achievements against learning goals is saved digitally, rather than lost or damaged in paper books).

LearningBook overcomes Learning Journey challenges competitors may not have considered:
●    Parents can only access information about their child via secure login
●    All information is secured against data loss and cybercrime
●    LearningBook tablets cannot be used to download other apps
●    LearningBook tablets can’t be used to share information on social networks like Facebook

If you’re looking into Digital Learning Journeys, make sure to ask about these security issues before choosing a system.

Conclusion
Many practitioners need greater support in terms of training and managing the risks technology presents. However, the advantages of technology in early years settings cannot be underestimated; when it comes to teaching, engaging parents and improving observations and learning journeys.

Children must be able to enjoy the technology they use in their everyday lives in early years settings, ensuring that all learning styles are catered to. Digital Learning Journey systems, such as LearningBook, are an important step toward that goal.

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Dr James Huntington's picture

Dr James Huntington - Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at LearningBook. His background in Computer Science and Education help lay the foundation for LearningBook to become one of the UK's first Digital Learning Journey Companies.