The changing nature of early childhood learning ecologies, experiences and pedagogies in a digital era

Arnott, Lorna and Palaiologou, Ioanna and Gray, Colette (2018) The changing nature of early childhood learning ecologies, experiences and pedagogies in a digital era. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49 (5). pp. 803-806. ISSN 0007-1013 (

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Digital technologies as part of young children’s lives – from birth to eight years old - have been a source of debate in the media and in academic fields for more than a decade. This discussion has increased in popularity since the introduction of the first iPad in 2010, after which digital devices became increasingly accessible for young children’s fine motor capabilities. Subsequently, the evolution of digital devices for young children has progressed at a rapid rate. Already, in less than 10 years, touchscreen devices are beginning to be displaced by a shifting focus on newly available internet-connected toys (IoToys), which mimic the Internet of Things in the toy market (Mascheroni and Holloway, 2017). With increasingly accessible devices in terms of cost, user friendly interfaces and tactile technologies – the concreteness of which link to the founding principle of early childhood pedagogy - research shows that young children are engaging widely with these devices. For example, from birth children have been found to observe screenbased communication such as video calls with distant grandparents (McClure et al., 2018), and before their first birthday can begin to autonomously manoeuvre the user interface by swiping (O'Connor, 2017). Toddlers are known to access photographs and videos; navigate Youtube, and interact with and complete some age appropriate digital games and applications (Harrison, 2018). This research demonstrates the competence of very young children as users of digital media.