Learning More but Knowing Less: Tech Integration in Early Education Hinders Social Learning


Lauren Lafrades, Editor-In-Chief

Generation Z is notable for being the generation that’s childhood has been consumed by the integration of technology and all aspects of life. Smartphones and tablets have been a part of reality since birth for this generation, and untapped potential as well as glaring consequences of this reality are still largely unknown.

The proposed effects of technology on general child development offer differing and often conflicting stances on what is “right” in the debate of children and their interactions with technology. Early childhood learning applications have grown in popularity and some studies show generally help improve engagement and retention of basic educational material.

On the other hand it has been found that exposure to the blue light of digital media screens attributes to early onset visual impairment and eyestrain in kids. Implications of lessened physical activity due to more interactions with screens has also been a cause of concern when talking about technology and youth. As technology becomes more integrated into daily life the more  it because vital to analyze the effects it has on the development and education of the most susceptible generation, scholastically and socially.

Many experts are questioning if constant exposure to technology at a young age hinders our ability to develop Interpersonal relationships.

Debates whether technology causes an inability to communicate and collaborate has intensified in the past decade. Rising sentiments of Isolation and feelings of loneliness in youth may be affected by the similarly growing amount of childhood screen time. On the same token the ability to form bonds with others and accurately interpret social cues may be at risk.

“Technology can be a useful tool in early childhood but should not be used as the only tool. Online programs should be in partnership with quality adult / child interactions,” explains Beth Oppenheimer, the executive director of The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

A BYU study further explained,  “Verbal communication is essential to human development, but nonverbal communication, or body language, reveals even more about a person’s emotions.

Without enough face-to-face communication, these nonverbal cues are unable to develop properly, skewing children’s relationships with others as they grow up in a technology-inclusive society.”

The convenience of online education can be an attractive resource or parents and teachers.

Realistically, new technology may enhance the learning environment in certain ways. Finding a middle ground on integration of tech in education may rep the most benefits for Idaho’s youth.

The Oppenheimer concludes, “Children can learn their ABC’s using an online tool but they can’t learn social skills which are critical to healthy development. Solutions to finding a balance include ensuring that there is always an opportunity for human interaction and healthy adult child relationships.”