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A New Child Development Opportunity, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 2225

Essay

Introduction

Recent years were marked with the growing commitment to technologies in various fields of human activity. Child development became one of the most interesting, most complex and, simultaneously, most controversial areas of technology application. A wide range of technologies targets and supports children in their development opportunities; yet, the use of technologies is associated with a number of problems. While most child development technologies are innovative and increasingly productive, the problem is in how these technologies are used and whether all children have equal access to them. In the present day technological environments, the cost, popularity, and technical features no longer define the value of technologies; rather, the speed and progress of child development depends on how well child development technologies align with particular educational and learning contexts and whether all children, without any exception, have a chance to use these technologies in the process of their development and growth.

Young Explorer Playstation for children with vision impairments

That technologies enhance the process of human development and learning is difficult to deny. Technologies facilitate the integration of knowledge into the basic life activities and turn learning into an ongoing activity. More important is the role, which technologies play in the development of children with special needs, including children with impaired vision. Recently, the only integrated preschool in New York City for children with impaired vision has demonstrated the results of using Young Explorer Playstation by children with vision impairments (Light House). The new technology offers children with impaired vision a unique opportunity to learn technology side by side with those who are sighted (Light House). The 6 Young Explorers Playstations have special technical features, which help visually impaired children meet their learning and development needs – they allow teachers to increase the point size of the text, to enhance contrast, and to magnify pictures (Light House). In this way, teachers can adjust Playstation to specific needs of preschool children (Light House).

How technology is used

Children use Playstations to learn Braille (Light House). The new technology promotes learning through tactile, visual, audio, and other sensory means (Light House). With the help of Playstations, visually impaired children develop better literacy and socialization skills, and learn math and science (Light House). Child development technologies raise the overall effectiveness of teacher lessons for 3 and 5 year olds (Light House). Playstations contribute to the development of the major skills in visually impaired children and prepare them to their transition to school.

Child development technologies: Who benefits?

All children, regardless of their age and training, can benefit of Playstation development technologies. Such technologies are particularly valuable for children with sensory impairments, including problems with vision and/ or blindness. Playstation technologies produce a multitude of positive effects on children and speed up their development and transition to school. They result in the development of better learning skills, from literacy and math to communication and socialization. The current state of research confirms that various technological applications have been and will continue to be effective in promoting social and emotional assets in children of different ages (Atkinson et al 23). Technologies similar to Playstations produce multifaceted effects on child development and improve their social, cognitive, and emotional growth (Atkinson et al 23). Playstations and similar technologies improve the development of language, which is of particular importance for children with visual impairments (Atkinson et al 23). The use of child development technology leads to the development of better knowledge and comprehension (Atkinson et al 24). The use of Playstations and other child development technologies results in the development of higher levels of abstract thinking, including analysis, synthesis, and evaluation in children (Atkinson et al 24).

Playstations are designed in a manner, which is attractive to children and makes use of technology increasingly interesting and fascinating. Technologies that are appealing to children promote self-esteem, positive self-concept, better collaboration and interpersonal skills (Atkinson et al 24). These later translate into better learning and educational achievements. Playstations prepare children to their transition to school (Atkinson et al 24). With appealing, interesting, and fascinating technologies, children become better motivated about learning and develop better attitudes toward education (Atkinson et al 24).

Disadvantaged children are more likely than other children to perceive the benefits of child development technologies, including low-income children and children with impairments and disabilities. IT companies are doing their best to support these children and to provide them with additional technology opportunities. Playstations is just out of many examples, which confirm that technologies are a beneficial option for different groups of children. Playstations which visually impaired children use in learning and education also produce positive effects on the quality of instruction and enhance the effectiveness of instructional design. New technology-integrated curriculums develop and promote student autonomy and support the so-called higher-level learning, which reflects in better learner-teacher interaction, cooperative learning, inquiry, and problem solving (Atkinson et al 25).

Playstation and education: Possible problems

Education professionals always believed that, instead of using computers, children must spend more time with peers, to develop critical connections with other people (Meltz). However, even the latest child development technologies are not without their problems. Inequity is, probably, one of the basic issues in developing and implementing various child development solutions; and technologies will hardly benefit children, unless society can minimize and resolve these inequities.

Playstation applications will benefit only those, who can access and use them regularly. Rodriguez is correct in that “without extraordinary determination and the great assistance of others – at home and school – there is little chance for success. Typically most working class children are barely changed by the classroom. The exception succeeds”. That the NYC integrated school for children with vision impairments uses child development technologies is more an exception rather than a rule. More often than not, children, especially working class children and children with various health problems have limited technological opportunities. Access to technologies continues to be a problem: low income, minority, and disadvantaged children are among those who lack access to the benefits of technological advancement. For this reason, disadvantaged children and children with health impairments will lag behind their peers, who use these very technologies on a regular basis.

Instead of being a routine learning solution, computers are still a luxury. Underserved areas like poor, inner city, and rural communities rarely apply to computers or use drill and practice software as a simplified form of learning support during classroom activities (Young 14). Meanwhile, children and students from better off communities actively use computers for inquiry-based, project-based and collaborative learning (Young 14). Low achieving students are not given enough time to work with computers, while their better off peers regularly participate in a variety of computer-related activities (Young 14). When schools and classrooms / communities lack equal technological support, technologies similar to those used in the NYC integrated school can hardly benefit children. On the contrary, they increase the knowledge gap between children who use technologies and those who do not. Child development technologies similar to Playstation applications cannot benefit children, unless they have equal access to these technologies and can successfully use them.

Apart from access and equity problems, technologies also may produce negative effects on children. The current state of technologies provides children with virtually limitless technological, educational, and information opportunities. Open access to Internet solutions and the growing variety of computer applications make it difficult for education professionals and parents to control children’s computer activity. “Children today are navigating social networking websites, downloading music, uploading photos, videos, journaling, e-mailing, blogging, building personal websites, and playing video games with people from around the world” (Miller 2-3). That, however, does not mean that education and child development technologies must become a taboo. The benefits of using child development technologies overweight their problems, and it is due to child development technologies that children with impaired vision and other health problems can meet their specific learning needs.

Playstation vs. children with visual impairments: What can be done?

Playstation applications for children with impaired vision present an excellent example of how technologies enhance the effectiveness of learning and development in children with special needs. Unfortunately, most schools and educational facilities for children with special needs are only at the beginning of their journey toward better use of technologies in the classroom. One of the basic questions for schools and education professionals to answer is how to improve the state of technologies and how to make technologies work for the benefit of preschool and school children. While children must have equal access to technologies, technologies also must be “developmentally appropriate”. In other words, technologies must enhance student learning and must match their individual and developmental characteristics, including age and the character of health impairment. In case of Playstation applications, IBM professionals were able to adjust conventional Playstation solutions to meet the needs of children with impaired vision. These Playstation applications do not simply change the color scheme or increase the point size of the text, but also create an interactive environment, which fascinates children and creates positive impressions about learning.

For education professionals to use the benefits of child development technologies, the latter must be integrated into the regular learning environment, while children with special needs must have increased access to technologies when this is helpful (Saracho & Spodek 13). For any technology to be developmentally appropriate, it must meet the following criteria: support the child’s uniqueness; be child controlled; be open-ended; be active; involve many senses; encourage experimentation and exploration; encourage decision-making and critical thinking; offer quick feedback and be interruptible (Saracho & Spodek 13). Developmentally appropriate technologies are user friendly, balance familiarity with novelty, are progressively leveled and responsive to child input (Saracho & Spodek 13). To promote equity in technology use, education professionals must ensure that all children have an opportunity to use technologies and Playstation solutions in the classroom. Classroom child development technologies must not be a luxury, and children with low educational achievements must not be denied access to classroom computer solutions. All children, without any exception, must be aware of how and when they can access and use computers in class.

Unfortunately, Playstation and similar applications are still a rare example of how technologies can benefit children. Due to their cost and complexity, educational facilities are unprepared to and cannot afford developing and implementing similar technological solutions in classroom settings. The NYC integrated school was among the few to receive these technologies for free (Light House). The cost of this technology is unknown, and there is still much to do before Playstations become a widely used form of technological support for children with special needs. Such technological improvements require time and effort. Some parents may oppose to the increased use of technologies by their children. However, there is no way for children with health impairments to meet their learning needs other than technologies. The speed and progress of child development will depend on how well child development technologies align with the basic curriculum content and whether all children, without any exception, can access and use these technologies on regular basis.

Conclusion

The 21st century is marked with the growing commitment to technologies in various spheres of human activity. Child development is not an exception: more and more education professionals apply to the benefits of child development technologies. Playstation applications for children with impaired vision are an excellent example of how technologies can speed up the process of child development and prepare children to their transition to school. Child development solutions similar to Playstation improve a whole range of skills, from math and literacy to cognitive development and socialization. These technologies fascinate children and create positive impressions about learning. Unfortunately, not all technologies are inherently useful: their effectiveness largely depends on how well education professionals can align them with the basic curriculum content. More importantly, equal access to technologies remains one of the major issues – poor children, working class children, and children with various impairments are among the most disadvantaged in terms of technology use. It would be fair to say that the effectiveness and usability of child development technologies similar to Playstation will remain extremely low, unless education professionals can successfully integrate these technologies into the basic curriculum content and unless all children, without any exception, have access and can use these technologies on a regular basis. More importantly, the speed and progress of child development will depend on how well child development technologies align with the basic curriculum content and whether all children, without any exception, can access and use these technologies on regular basis.

Works Cited

Atkinson, N.L., Silsby, J., Gold, R.S., Koeppl, P.T., Chokshi, A.N. & Gutierrez, L.S.

“Technology and Child Development, a Ten-Year Review of Reviews”, Child Wellbeing. Child Wellbeing, 2001. Web. 10 April 2010.

Light House. “Preschoolers With and Without Vision Loss Learn Together Using the Latest

Accessible IBM Computer Technology”, Light House. Light House, n.d. Web. 10 April 2010.

Meltz, B.F. “Can Cutting-Edge Technology Foster a Sense of Humanity? A Pioneering Child Development Researcher Says Yes”, Boston Globe. Boston Globe, 22 October 2007. Web. 10 April 2010.

Miller, M.E. “The Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom”, Melanie Eve Miller. Melanie Eve Miller, 2009. Web. 10 April 2010.

Rodriguez, R. “The Achievement of Desire”. In G. Colombo, R. Cullen and B. Lisle, Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing, Bedford/ St. Martin’s.

Saracho, O.N. & Spodek, B. Contemporary Perspectives in Early Childhood Education. IAP, 2008

Young, M.E. “Technology and Early Child Development”, The World Bank. Technowlogia, September/ October 2001. Web. 10 April 2010.

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