Beyond Digital Literacy: How EdTech Fosters Children’s Social-Emotional Development

technology and student growthMost educators–and parents–focus technology benefits on how it helps academically, but efriend Joe Peters reminded me the other day that there’s more to it than that. Joe’s not only a parent, but a freelance journalist and tech enthusiast, so I asked him to explain that to me and to my readers. Here’s his article on how edtech fosters a child’s social-emotional development:

As technology has become mainstreamed in modern education, learners are able to enjoy many key advantages. These include acquiring 21st-century skills, stronger peer relationships, and a greater motivation to learn. Technology also helps to prepare students for the future and improves the retention rate of information.

A child’s emotional well-being and self-confidence is essential to social and intellectual development. A worldwide survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group confirmed that the use of educational technology fosters collaboration, problem-solving, teamwork and interpersonal communications. These benefits can help children build important social and emotional skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Importance of Social-Emotional Development

Every person experiences a broad array of emotions on a daily basis. These feelings are not right or wrong nor good or bad, but there are good and not so good ways to handle those feelings. Kids who are shown ways to identify, express and cope with their feelings will be able to handle tough situations later in life.

Parents and educators should avoid negating a child’s strong emotions. Dismissing child’s feelings may cause resentment, shame and confusion, and could make the child afraid to share similar feelings in the future. These negative emotions can also interfere with the learning process. Many parents and teachers do not fully understand social and emotional learning (SEL). They might see it as a way to get kids to behave rather than as a way to achieve improved academic, economic and social outcomes for their students.

“New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology,” is a 2015 survey of approximately 200 parents and 200 educators (including 190 teachers and 20 principles). The meta-analysis found that SEL promotes a variety of academic, emotional and social benefits for learners. Technology used for education personalizes the learning process, engages students and develops essential skills for the workplace. Educational technology builds on what children learn in the classroom and extends the learning environment well beyond the school building.

Understanding What Boosts Social and Emotional Learning

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is essential to the learning environment. Learners can explore relevant games that are designed by teachers as a method of structured play. Academic subjects are balanced with gaming concepts like strategy and forward thinking. The students will be able to retain what they learn and apply it to real life.

To devise these learning experiences, students and teachers work together. They create rules and strategies that enhance the experience of playing educational games. Such fun routines are a powerful way to bolster the emotional development of young children.

EdTech can also be used through its various eLearning, social media and learning management systems to teach and boost empathy. There are also many apps that help kids to show compassion and empathy from the earliest ages, including the toddler years. Parents and educators can look through these apps and other eLearning systems to guide children to the programs that best reinforce strong social and emotional skills.

Embedding Social and Emotional Learning into EdTech

By weaving SEL elements into EdTech products that are academically oriented, educators can show students that the social and emotional aspects of learning and development are as important as academic learning. Employers and investors have a strong interest in funding programs that embed SEL into games, learning systems and apps that have a central focus on academic content, such as math or writing, rather than SEL alone.

In these interactive learning environments, EdTech provides a stimulating online environment that allows learners to grasp conceptual ideas while at the same time develop important skills such as collaborating with their peers. Kids can also develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, the ability to adapt to unfamiliar environments and show leadership under challenging circumstances. Kids also have the freedom to try new ideas, be creative and explore in safety.

Taking Advantage of Technological Innovations

Some of the newest tech innovations such as wearable devices, apps and virtual reality further extend the use of SEL. There are many new learning strategies that are developing from affective computing. For example, wearable devices are currently in use to help certain groups of students to communicate more effectively.

Apps for smartphones use cloud computing to manage learning systems that include real-time sounds and 3D videos. Virtual reality delivers an interactive learning environment that is affordable and works anywhere with Wi-Fi connections. Educators can personalize these experiences with responsive and predictive systems.

High-tech innovations are transforming the way that kids develop social and emotional connections. From game playing at school to apps at home, kids can strengthen their creativity, teamwork and collaborative skills. EdTech provides learners with the ability to experience their creativity, logical thinking and problem-solving skills in real-life situations.

Bio: Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working as a marketing consultant, Joe enjoys spending time with his family, reading about latest tech gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.