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O HARA 2011 Young Children s Ict Experiences in the Home Parental Perspectives

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    http://ecr.sagepub.com/  Journal of Early Childhood Research  http://ecr.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/04/22/1476718X10389145The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/1476718X10389145 published online 12 May 2011 Journal of Early Childhood Research  Mark O'Hara Young children's ICT experiences in the home: Some parental perspectives  - Oct 14, 2011version of this article was published on more recent A Published by:  http://www.sagepublications.com  can be found at: Journal of Early Childhood Research  Additional services and information for http://ecr.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://ecr.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions:  http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints:  http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions:  What is This? - May 12, 2011OnlineFirst Version of Record>>  - Oct 14, 2011Version of Record at University of Bristol Library on October 18, 2014ecr.sagepub.comDownloaded from at University of Bristol Library on October 18, 2014ecr.sagepub.comDownloaded from    Article  Journal of Early Childhood ResearchXX(X) 1–12© The Author(s) 2011Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/1476718X10389145ecr.sagepub.com Corresponding author: Mark O’Hara, Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University, Arundel Building, 122 Charles Street, Sheffield S1 2NE, UK Email: m.p.o’hara@shu.ac.uk  Young children’s ICT experiences in the home: Some parental perspectives Mark O’Hara Sheffield Hallam University, UK Abstract This small-scale study focuses on young children’s reported information and communication technology (ICT) experiences in the home and the role of parents in providing technological opportunities, recognition and support. The children of the parents involved were all enrolled in nursery and reception classes (4–5 years of age) in two settings (referred to hereafter as Stafford School and Hill School). The term home is used here to denote any context in children’s lives beyond the school/nursery environs whilst the interpretation of ICT is equally broad and inclusive in nature and encompasses any technology associated with the handling and electronic transmission of information and/or its use in controlling the operations of machines and other devices (HMI, 1989). In this context therefore ICT would include such things as telephones, televisions, video, audio recorders, CD and DVD players, CD-ROMs, programmable toys, games consoles, radios and, of course, computers. The study found that differences in the incidence and availability of ICT in the children’s homes could be subtle on occasion and were the result of a number of factors. Children might have ‘access’ to certain technologies in that they were present in their home environments but this did not necessarily mean that children were always able and/or allowed to ‘use’ those technologies. It supports the arguments made by Marsh and others elsewhere (Marsh, 2004; Marsh et al., 2005) that young children are already in possession of ICT knowledge and competences when they arrive in nursery and reception classes partly as a result of varying levels of parental intervention and modelling as well as being in the process of acquiring new knowledge, skills and attitudes. The study also argues that parents’ involvement with ICT was often characterized by conscious but sometimes uncertain efforts to limit opportunities and access to ICT in the perceived best interests of the children (Clarke, 2006). Keywords ICT, home, technology, parents, preschool Introduction This study set out to shed light on the home ICT experiences of two groups of four- and five-year-olds and their parents’ role in providing opportunities, recognition, interaction and models of ICT  practice (Nutbrown et al., 2005). Early years practitioners are continuing a learning process begun  by parents and successful partnerships between parents and nurseries/schools are seen as an at University of Bristol Library on October 18, 2014ecr.sagepub.comDownloaded from   2    Journal of Early Childhood Research XX(X) invaluable co-requisite of good quality Foundation Stage provision (Paige-Smith, 2002). Parental involvement in their children’s education can be affected by a range of socio-economic factors and is at its most powerful and far reaching when taking place ‘at home’ (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003). UK parents therefore are exhorted to play a part in boosting their children’s attainment across all areas of learning and frameworks of parental involvement such as ORIM (opportunities, recognition, interaction and models of practice) have provided practitioners and policy-makers alike with insights into the mechanisms by which this positive impact on children’s achievements and adjustment can be facilitated (Hannon, 1995, in Nutbrown et al., 2005). Nor should the term learning be restricted simply to those subjects and areas found in the Early Years Foundation Stage and the National Curriculum for England and Wales (DCSF, 2010; QCDA, 2010). Learning here refers to the totality of children’s experiences and development. To this context in recent years has been added the ever more ubiquitous phenomenon of ICT which is increasingly being presented to teachers as a means of offering new ways to enhance children’s educational experiences and attainment (BECTA, 2009; Marsh, 2004; Plowman and Stephen, 2003). ICT is also being presented to parents as a potent means of enhancing their chil-dren’s achievements as for many if not most young children in the UK their home environment includes numerous new technologies (Buckingham and Scanlon, 2005; Marsh et al., 2005). Computers in particular provide a good example of ICT marketed to parents as a means of giving children an educational edge over the competition  and helping them to move to the front of the class  (Buckingham and Scanlon, 2005). Ironically the promotion of the educational advantages of these new technologies is accompanied by parallel concerns on the part of many parents about their ability to keep abreast of the rapid pace of technological change and the abuses to which some of these technologies can be put (Clarke, 2006; Livingstone and Bober, 2004).Estimates in the UK of the extent of ICT in households vary but figures for personal computer (PC) ownership nationally are thought to be over 80 percent (Ofcom, 2008). However, national statistics may mask important local variations that conceal differences between those who have and those who have less and figures quickly date as costs come down and technologies spread (BECTA, 2002; Selwyn and Bullon, 2000; Wellington, 2001). The picture is further complicated  by the fact that, apart from some notable exceptions (Marsh et al., 2005; Ofcom, 2005), much of the data gleaned in recent years on ICT in the home tends to focus on PCs, the internet and/or the experiences of older children (Livingstone and Bober, 2004). Nor does the presence of ICT in the home mean that young children themselves are using it or if they are what they are using it for. For example, while the rationale of higher income parents for providing children with home computers often centre on its educational potential, surveys of actual use have found that the children them-selves are largely involved in game playing in much the same way as with children from lower income/non-professional backgrounds (Kerawalla and Crook, 2002). For many parents their ideas about ICT will be based on previous school or work experiences, comparisons with peers and general impressions drawn from the media and popular culture and ICT may therefore be equated primarily with computers. Some parents may fear, possibly quite correctly, that their own ICT knowledge and skills are insufficient either to the task of keeping their children safe or of supporting their child’s learning (Clarke, 2006; Linebarger and Chernin, 2003; Livingstone and Bober, 2004). Other parents may feel under pressure to invest in their child’s future educational success by purchasing  fun   edutainment   for the home which in reality may not confer much of an educational advantage on the users and may not be much fun either when compared to a games console, a favourite DVD or a website (Buckingham and Scanlon, 2005).While the availability of ICT in the home is on the increase it is by no means universally available, furthermore the increase is unevenly spread and it is difficult to be certain about the uses at University of Bristol Library on October 18, 2014ecr.sagepub.comDownloaded from   O’Hara 3 to which the technology is being put (Kerawalla and Crook, 2002; Ofcom, 2005). Research into digital divides suggests that children’s access to ICT beyond the classroom might be characterized  by disparities as a result of a range of social, economic and cultural factors (OECD, 2000, 2001). This aspect of childhood may be different as a result of variables such as income, education, house-hold size and type, age, gender, racial and linguistic backgrounds and geographical location (Linebarger and Chernin, 2003; OECD, 2006). There may therefore be some children in marginal-ized groups within society for whom access to ICT is more restricted. Alternatively, the wherewithal to access some new technologies even within marginalized groups may be much more widespread given economies of scale in production. However, the issue of a digital divide is more than a simple matter of access to equipment; it is also about using ICT to live well in contemporary society (Selwyn, 2003). The digital divide may actually be a complex of divides concerned as much with education and competence as with access and availability (OECD, 2006). Data collection This work reports on data gathered from parents and carers through surveying and interviewing  parents of Foundation Stage (3–5 years) children in two nursery and two reception classes in two state-maintained schools in England. Accounts from those who know the personalities and daily routines of individual children are essential if researchers are to build up a detailed understanding of the type and extent of young children’s ICT experiences and capabilities in the context of home and community (Clark, 2004). Both settings were in the same Local Authority (LA) which covered a large geographical area and contained widely contrasting pockets of advantage and disadvantage. Although the study did not include an independent assessment of the socio-economic differences  between respondents from the two schools, the sample selection was informed by Ofsted inspection reports which made it clear that the schools served very different communities with different needs. Stafford School was a smaller than average Nursery/Infant school serving a suburb of the coun-ty’s main city. The area was described at inspection as having average economic circumstances. Most children started nursery as soon as possible after their third birthdays and the majority of  pupils were white with only a small number having English as an additional language. The percent-age of pupils entitled to free school meals was below the national average while the number of children with identified special educational needs was in line with national averages. There were no statemented pupils. The school was categorized during its most recent inspection as a very effective school. The nursery and reception areas were in separate parts of the school and space was at a  premium. The nursery children had access to a dedicated outdoor area which was used on a timeta- bled basis. The reception children meanwhile had the same access to the outdoors as the Key Stage 1 children. Both classes had PCs in them and staff also made use of the school’s ICT suite.Hill School was a Nursery, Infant and Junior school amalgamated two years prior to the research. The school was located in an area in which traditional industries had declined and the children were  predominantly white. A number of the pupils presented very challenging behaviour and there was a higher than average number of pupils with special educational needs. Ofsted had identified the Foundation Stage provision as an area of strength in the school and these classes were co-located in a brand new, purpose-built Foundation Stage base. The base comprised a large open space nursery with a range of general purpose areas, specific areas related to the different areas of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage and a separate reception classroom. The reception and nursery areas also had a shared annex as well as a purpose built outdoor area as part of the new building which was well resourced and available to pupils on an open access basis at certain times of the day and timetabled at other times. The reception class contained two PCs as did the nursery area. In at University of Bristol Library on October 18, 2014ecr.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
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