What is Developmentally Appropriate Technology?

Developmentally Appropriate Technology refers to the idea of the use of technology in educational settings, ranging from early childhood to high school. If technology is developmentally appropriate, that means that it is appropriate for the physical and cognitive levels of the children using it. The term describes how necessary and helpful certain technologies can be for certain age groups. If a technology is developmentally appropriate, then it will be helpful and educational in purpose for the age group in which it is being used.

How is Developmentally Appropriate Technology related to education?

In the last several decades, America and the world has been wrapped up in a technological revolution. Technological advances in many ways have impacted many of our daily lives. A growing number of educational critics believe that including technology in education will best prepare our young generations for the future. Also, many of these critics argue that it must be developmentally appropriate technology, there is some argument on what that means for what age groups. For example, in “Missing the Boat with Technology Usage in Early Childhood Settings,” the authors argues that not enough developmentally appropriate technology is used in early childhood classrooms, and if that were to be increased, we would see a improvements in early childhood education overall. However, the authors also argue that teachers are not yet prepared for this kind of jump, and there needs to be much improvement, especially in early childhood, if developmentally appropriate technology can take hold (Parette, Quesenberry, Blum, 2010).

In “Tots to Tweens: Age-Appropriate Technology Programming for Kids,” librarian Madeline Walton-Hadlock (2008) discusses some of the upsides to developmentally appropriate technology. She points out that, “Technology is exciting for children, and it may draw new young people to the library…[and] Technology can enhance learning by engaging children in problem solving, team work, decision making, and the development of fine motor skills and coordination,” (p. 52). She also goes on to discuss the fears of some parents, educators, and health experts that children can be overexposed to technology. Walton-Hadlock (2008) writes:
"Parents and educators often worry that too much technology will lead to problems such as poor socialization, short attention spans, and even childhood obesity. Most experts agree that a child’s exposure to technology should be meaningful, involve collaboration with other people, include time limits, and moreover should not be a substitute for outside play, exposure to print, and personal interactions. While different families may develop their own limits, the Center on Media and Child Health recommends no more than two hours of screen exposure per day for any child over the age of two." (p. 54)

Walton-Hadlock (2008) recommends several different types of technologies for use by teachers or parents, in order to enhance the educational process for their students and children. They include music CDs, electronic toys, computer software programs, Internet games, and video games.

What does this mean for us as educators?

As educators, we need to be aware of how pervasive technology is in our students’ lives. We should make sure that all students are well versed in technology, and we should use students’ previous knowledge to increase their educational experiences. These articles point out how early technological interventions can be extremely helpful, especially in early childhood educational settings. The writings also point out that developmentally appropriate practices, such as computer games, can help kids engage further in their education (Walton-Hadlock, 2008). As teachers, we have the responsibility to make sure it is developmentally appropriate, but also limited in use, so that students can get the best educational experience possible.

Works Cited

Parette, H., Quesenberry, A., & Blum, C. (2010). Missing the Boat with Technology Usage in Early Childhood Settings: A 21st Century View of Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(5), 335-343. doi:10.1007/s10643-009-0352-x

Walton-Hadlock, M. (2008). Tots to Tweens: Age-Appropriate Technology Programming for Kids. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 6(3), 52-55. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.