In the same way that ‘mark-making’ is a natural prelude to writing, playful use of technology is a natural prelude to more purposeful and directed uses of technology. Young children need, therefore, to be given opportunities to use technology within their play prior to using it more formally. For instance, digital cameras could be made available for the children to use, which they can choose to use whenever and wherever they wish. During this play the children, when ready, will work out for themselves how the cameras work and this may well be supported by an adult using open-ended questioning such as, “What happens when you press…?”, “How do you view…?”. It is important at this stage that the photographs they take are ones they choose to take and not ones they are directed to take by an adult.
Only when the children can use the cameras confidently do we start to suggest to the children photographs that they should take, and it is at this point that the cameras become part of our’s continuous provision. The children should then be proactively encouraged to choose to use the camera whenever they need to take a photograph, for instance, to record something they have made or achieved.
Over the year a range of technologies are introduced to the children in this way: metal detectors, digital magnifiers, torches, programmable toys, microphones, video cameras, IPads and, of course, computers with appropriate software. Thus, by the end of the year the children should have a range of technologies available to them within our continuous provision which they can choose to use whenever they wish to for their own purposes.
Whilst children are developing their understanding of these technologies, we also draw their attention to the technology that’s being used in the world around them, from mobile phones to pedestrian crossings. Staff provide a positive role model by showing children that adults use technology for their own purposes and by talking to the children about the value they place on this use. In this way children will see technology used for real purposes and will develop the understanding that technologies are tools to be used when they’re needed and that they’re not used just for the sake of it. They will develop a positive disposition towards technology and a motivation to use it both now and in the future.