Statement on young children and digital technologies

Early Childhood Australia launched the Statement on young children and digital technologies at the 2018 ECA National Conference.

The Statement, developed in consultation with the sector and under the guidance of ECA’s Digital Policy Group, provides an evidence base from which educators can make decisions regarding digital technologies that are relevant and sensitive to the digital contexts experienced by children and their families.

The Statement on young children and technologies supports the early childhood education and care sector, children, families, decision-makers and technology developers to understand technology use with and for young children.

Instead of working towards ‘one-size-fits-all’ advice, a contextual approach recognises that educators are skilled at working in partnership with children and families and making decisions in the best interests of the child.

This Statement provides an overview of existing research about young children and digital technologies in four known areas of importance in early childhood education:

1. Relationships
2. Health and wellbeing
3. Citizenship
4. Play and pedagogy.

Each area canvassed in this Statement is accompanied by a guiding principle and ‘practice advice’ intended to facilitate professional reflection on the role and optimal use of digital technologies with, by and for young children, according to the digital contexts in which young children, their families and educators play, live and work.

You can download the full Statement on young children and digital technologies, and in addition, a summary version which captures the four guiding principles and the practice advice for early childhood educators (drawn directly from the Statement) can be found here.

Subscribers to ECA’s Every Child magazine will receive a free print copy of the Summary version with their final 2018 issue of Every Child, (volume 4), due out in December. Subscribe to Every Child by 31 October to be sure to receive the final 2018 issue with your copy of the Summary.

Why a Statement on young children and digital technologies?

The ECA Statement on young children and digital technologies was developed in response to an identified need for guidance for early childhood professionals on the role and optimal use of digital technologies with, by and for young children in early childhood education and care settings. This need has grown as children are increasingly growing up in digital contexts.

In June 2016 the ECA Board supported a recommendation from ECA’s Digital Business Kit (DBK) Reference Group that ECA should lead the development of a Statement on young children and digital technology for the Australian context.

ECA Digital Policy Group

ECA established and worked in consultation with an advisory Digital Policy Group, which comprised representatives of 14 Australian-based organisations and academics with an interest and expertise in young children and digital technologies. The role of the Digital Policy Group was to provide independent advice and expert guidance to ECA on developing the Statement on young children and technologies on issues of young children’s education, development, health, wellbeing and safety, parenting, interactive technology, media and online environments, family and child research.

The Digital Policy Group held its first meeting in September 2016. Dr Chip Donohue, an international keynote at ECA national conference in Darwin, October 2016, was an invited guest and shared his experience developing a similar Statement in the USA.

Development of the Statement

Developed over a two year period, the Statement on young children and digital technologies is informed by sector consultation, published research and expert advice from within Australia and internationally. Extensive sector engagement included a national online survey (Zabatiero, Straker, Mantilla, Edwards & Danby, 2018), and social media participation. Children were also consulted on their perspectives about digital technologies in early childhood education and care settings.

Expert advice was sought regarding young children and digital technologies in areas including health and wellbeing, ethics and citizenship, and digital media consumption. In addition, a critical review of specifically relevant literature was completed.

Released in April 2018, ECA and the Digital Policy group received feedback on Discussion Paper on the Statement for young children and digital technology

Feedback from the early childhood sector on the Discussion Paper was incorporated into a Draft Statement, circulated to the ECA Digital Policy Group and further reviewed. The ECA Statement on young children and digital technologies was finalised in early September 2018 for launch at the ECA National Conference in Sydney on 21 September.

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Contact policy@earlychildhood.org.au to stay in touch with developments.