No doubt you have seen parents in a store, on an airplane, or in a car pass their mobile device (smartphone, handheld device, tablet) to their toddler or young school-aged child to entertain and contain them for some period of time. Some people have termed this the "passback" effect--an intentional use of the device as pacifier to keep the kids quiet and occupied so that the parents can focus on driving or shopping, or making it painlessly through a trans-continental flight.
Schools have had their own version of the passback method for years, putting a computer or two in the back of the room and letting students who "behave" or finish their work early use the computer as a reward. Happily, many districts are moving away from the passback approach to K-12 technology use, instituting 1-to-1 computing practices that integrate technology seamlessly and appropriately into curriculum and instruction.
Early childhood experts say that schools need to be similarly intentional in how they use technology with young children, especially as new mobile devices and advanced touchscreens rapidly make their way into preschool programs. As technology consultant Gail Lovely argues, "the first use of a device often dictates its longer-term use. We cannot afford to let the passback practice undermine more powerful integration of technologies with young learners."
Here, Lovely and early childhood consultant Deb Moberly each share six best practices for teachers and for district policymakers to move technology use with young children forward--ensuring that "passback" will be a thing of the past.