BOSTON—The library in Boston’s Haynes Early Education Center is a bright, cheery space filled with well-stocked bookcases, tables ringed by small wooden chairs, art supplies, cushions for story time, and dozens of laminated vocabulary words strung below an oversize paper alphabet. But one of the most important learning tools here is a small gray box lit by a blinking green LED, perched well above kid-height on a yellow wall by the door. It’s the Wi-Fi transponder that brings broadband Internet to the fingertips of about 175 small children—preschool through first grade, mostly from low-income black and Hispanic families.
Just a few years ago, preschools and kindergartens were largely no-go zones for technology—holdouts against the rising digital tide in our lives. But the absolutist resistance has been crumbling with surprising speed. Increasingly, parents and educators debate how, not if, we should mix technology and our youngest learners. The question is especially pressing in rural communities and inner-city neighborhoods, like the one the Haynes serves, in which kids are less likely to have access to computers and broadband Internet at home.
In May, at an education conference in Washington, D.C., Ellen Wartella, a Northwestern University professor who studies the effects of media on children, discussed a recent survey she led of about 1,000 preschool teachers, in a sampling that included schools serving a range of socioeconomic levels. It was a follow-up to a similar survey from two years earlier, and while the full results won’t be released until later this summer, Wartella revealed that from 2012 to 2014, the number of preschool teachers with tablet computers in their classrooms nearly doubled—to 55 percent from 29 percent.
Read the whole story: Slate