6.1 Learning Technology
“Learning technology” is not a term associated with the early years of childhood. During the period up to the age of entry to formal education, little distinction is made between the technologies that are dedicated to learning and those that children use for playful purposes. There are, however, differences in the types of technology that they are likely to encounter depending on whether they are at home or in a preschool setting.
This chapter therefore uses the more inclusive terms “digital media” or “technology” interchangeably rather than “learning technology” as this reflects the broad range of devices likely to be experienced by preschool children across home and preschool environments. As used here, the term refers to digital devices (such as desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, games consoles, e-readers and mobile phones) and to products or outputs (applications or apps, DVDs, websites, games, and interactive stories) that are viewed, read, played or created on these devices, along with television and broadcast or streaming media. The term can also include toys such as play mobile phones and laptops that provide a means for children to engage in role play about how these devices are used in everyday life. These toys get less attention than the technologies that have more obvious educational potential but they can be an important part of the technological landscape in which children grow up.