Enrique Alonso-Sainz1

1Universidad Autónoma. Madrid. Spain

The IT are the tools that we are provided beneath the promise of an easier and bearable life. Even though the appearance gifts our sight an attractive element, underneath the screens, there are hided tons of issues and disadvantages in general, and for the pre-scholar stage, in particular. It can be converted into a Troya´s horse, which is the teacher and parent’s responsibility to know about before allowing its entrance in our life’s and in our child and pupil´s life too. Addiction, overstimulation, attention and hyperactivity problems are some of the side effects, that can be caused by an inappropriate news’s technologies use. The aim of this text is to analyze, from a theoretical and bibliographic point of view and with hermeneutical methodology, the different uses of ICT to educate children. This is studied in different environments: at home and at school, following a vast literature review. For this, the didactic uses of ICT in different areas of learning are analyzed to reflect on the need to acquire a certain prudence when putting a screen before the little ones. The negative effects that its use entails may be greater than the benefits they report, in addition to the fact that its formative power does not always equal its educational potential; not everything ICT can teach is good, is educational.

KEYWORDS: Screens, IT, Pre-Scholar age, Educational Innovation, Educational Situation, Good Practice, Educative technology

Las TIC son herramientas que se nos brindan a nuestro alcance bajo la promesa de una vida mucho más fácil y llevadera. Aunque la apariencia regale a la vista un elemento atractivo, debajo del cristal de la pantalla se esconden multitud de problemas e inconvenientes en general y para la etapa Infantil en particular. Puede convertirse en un Caballo de Troya que es responsabilidad de los educadores y padres conocer antes de permitirle la entrada en nuestras vidas y en las de nuestros hijos y alumnos. Problemas como la adicción, la sobre estimulación, los problemas de atención o la hiperactividad son algunos de los efectos secundarios que pueden acarrear un uso indebido de las tecnologías digitales. El objetivo de este texto es analizar, desde un punto de vista teórico y bibliográfico bajo metodología hermenéutica, los diferentes usos que se dan a las TIC en edad infantil con objetivo formativo, en casa y en la escuela, basando las afirmaciones en estudios ya planteados con anterioridad. Para ello se analizan los usos en las diferentes áreas de aprendizaje de aplicaciones y didácticas con presencia digital para reflexionar, finalmente, sobre necesidad de adquirir una cierta prudencia a la hora de poner ante los más pequeños una pantalla para su formación. Los efectos negativos que conlleva su utilización pueden ser mayores que los beneficios que reportan, además de que su poder formativo no siempre equivale al potencial educativo; no todo lo que enseñan es bueno, es educativo.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Pantallas, TIC, Edad Infantil, Innovación Educativa, Situaciones Educativas, Buenas Prácticas, Tecnología Educativa

As TICs são ferramentas que nos são oferecidas sob a promessa de uma vida muito mais fácil e tranquila. Embora a aparência dê um elemento atraente aos olhos, sob o vidro da tela há uma infinidade de problemas e inconvenientes em geral e para o estágio infantil em particular. Ele pode se tornar um Cavalo de Tróia que é responsabilidade dos educadores e pais conhecê-lo antes de permitir que ele entre em nossas vidas e na de nossos filhos e alunos. Problemas como dependência, superestimulação, problemas de atenção ou hiperatividade são alguns dos efeitos colaterais que o uso indevido de tecnologias digitais pode causar. O objetivo deste texto é analisar, de um ponto de vista teórico e bibliográfico sob uma metodologia hermenêutica, as diferentes utilizações dadas às TIC nas crianças para fins educativos, em casa e na escola, baseando as declarações em estudos que já foram feitos anteriormente. Para tal, são analisadas as utilizações nas diferentes áreas de aprendizagem de aplicações didácticas com presença digital, a fim de refletir, finalmente, na necessidade de adquirir uma certa cautela ao colocar uma tela em frente das crianças mais pequenas para a sua educação. Os efeitos negativos da sua utilização podem ser maiores do que os benefícios, e o seu poder educacional nem sempre é equivalente ao seu potencial educacional; nem tudo o que ensinam é bom, e nem tudo o que ensinam é educacional.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: Telas, TIC, Idade infantil, Inovação educacional, Situações educacionais, Boas práticas, Tecnologia educacional

Enrique Alonso-Sainz. Universidad Autónoma. Madrid. Spain.

Received: 14/04/2021
Accepted: 05/10/2021
Published: 03/01/2022

Cómo citar el artículo
Alonso-Sainz, E. (2022). The IT in preschool education: A criticar look at the use and reflections for good practices as an educational alternative. Vivat Academia. Revista de Comunicación, 154, 241-263.

Translation by Paula González (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Venezuela)


It is not necessary to be very insightful to affirm that in recent years we have been plunged into a digital metamorphosis that has encompassed multiple aspects of life in  society,  from  communications  to  education.  Information  and  Communication Technologies (ICT) are already an inseparable tool for human beings; an almost extension of our own body, which exhorts us to introduce them into our daily work as an indispensable tool.
This paradigm shift invites deep reflection, not only in the social sphere but also in the educational sphere on the drift taken in the last decade and the coming ones. The so-called  new  pedagogies,  the  new  educational  currents,  and  the  appearance  of digital materials encourage questions about the use of these media and their benefits. In Spain, in the 2016/2017 academic year, the proportion of computers per student was  one  in  three  (Ministry  of  Education  and  Professional  Training,  2019);  This proportion  has  tended  to  decrease  in  each  school  year,  reaching  a  ratio  of  0.8 computers per student (1.25 students per device) according to the latest OECD data (2020).
It is known by all that the Infant stage, from 3 to 6 years old, is fundamental for the holistic development of the person. Good progress on a mental, physical, and social level ensures correct future maturation and well-being (Romera and Ortega-Ruiz, 2018). Given the importance of this period, it is worth highlighting the role that parents and teachers play, and the responsibility they have, in safeguarding these years of full blooming (Kristjánsson, 2020).
The work presented here constitutes a critical analysis on controversial issues, but to which little attention has been paid, about ICT, such as: the true benefits in the use of digital media, the drawbacks, the different uses, or the current situation of Early Childhood Education regarding new technologies. To do this, we will first approach a literary review by resorting to the different data and reports that are presented to us and that seek to objectively argue the current situation of the use of ICT from a social  and  educational  point  of  view.  Secondly,  we  will  analyze  some  uses  that schools and families make of different digital media for training purposes from apps focused on teaching certain areas of knowledge. For this analysis, we will use a theoretical methodology making use of hermeneutical research methods. Ultimately, a few short conclusive words that pose the ideas previously raised and leave other questions open as possible lines of future research and reflections that help implement good practices regarding education with screens at this stage.


It is important,  before  the  analysis,  to   clarify  the  concept  of  ICT  or  new technologies. Although there is no clear difference between the two, some people rise against the second term due to the ambiguity of its meaning as a novelty since all novelty ceases to be so after a while. That said, we will treat both terms synonymously in this work.
Taking  as  a  reference  the  definition  of  Julio  Cabero  (1998),  ICTs  are  "those technical instruments that revolve around information and new discoveries" (p.197). This leads us to affirm that almost any technological device that we have at home or in our pocket can be considered a new technology.
Having  clarified  the  term,  we  can  say  almost  apodictically  that  our  day-to-day orbits around a series of machines that allow us to communicate, relate, organize, and inform ourselves in a certain way. Currently, the person who does not have a series of digital knowledge or a series of competencies that allow updating in these resources is relegated to the condition of digital illiterate (Moreno-González, 2019), making a new literacy in this field necessary to be able to follow the moving tempo of the contemporary world.
Certain  data  confirm  this  palpable  reality. Taking  the  situation  in  Spain  as  a reference  for  analysis,  according  to  data  from  the  National  Institute  of  Statistics, 95.4% of Spanish households have internet access (INE, 2020), 38.5% more than a decade ago (INE, 2009). In parallel, we know that there are 54.44 million mobile subscriptions in Spain, 117% of the total population (INE, 2020). Similarly, these same sources tell us that 96% of the population has a mobile device of any kind (3 points more than in 2009), that 87% of these mobiles are smartphones, and that 54% have profiles in social networks (We are social and Hootsuite, 2021). These data, similar to those of the rest of Europe, indicate the colossal progress that screens are having in people's daily lives.
There  is  no  doubt  that  possession  of  an  electronic  device  is  not  necessarily indicative  of  its  high  use.  On  many  occasions,  having  a  television  at  home  or  a specific number of computers does not have to force us to make prolonged use of them  but  the  data  indicates  otherwise.  In  2020,  Spaniards  consumed  about  240 minutes of television per person per day, that is, about 4 hours a day, 30 minutes more compared to 2019 (taking into account the pandemic situation experienced that year) (Barlovento Comunicación, 2020), a figure somewhat far from the 2.5 hours on average in the rest of the world (Eurodata TV Worldwide, 2019).
By  refining  our  gaze  towards  the  educational  field,  we  can  observe  that  this technologically  submissive  reality  maintains  the  same  direction  -or  perhaps  even more marked- in both adults and children.
Two decades ago, Mark Prensky (2001) coined the famous term “Digital Native” to refer to those generations born in the Technological Age. It is these digital natives that today are flooding the classrooms of schools and universities; young people who are expected to have almost innate facilities to understand, coexist, and interact with screens due to their habitual coexistence with these devices from the first years of life.
The   educational   model,   in   a   deep   metamorphosis,   advances   towards   full technologization. As has been pointed out in previous lines, in Spain, in 2018 there was a proportion of 0.8 students per computer (OECD, 2020), a number that decreases  each  year  in  a  clear  direction  towards  the  one-person  computer.  Most educational   centers   seek,   in   one   way   or   another,   educational   innovation   by modernizing their technological materials. The schools that do so the least are those with projectors in the classrooms or digital whiteboards; the ones that do the most, have one tablet per student or virtual and augmented reality tools.
This trend is accompanied by significant investments and support from different national and supranational governments. In 2000, the European Union approved a million-dollar project called the E-Learning Project that sought to lay the foundations for the new digitization in the classrooms to create a communicated space that would open the doors to the exchange of materials, access to information, digital learning support tools, etcetera; a project somewhat frustrated by the 2008 crisis.
In Spain, in the same way, plans have been approved for educational digitization, such as the 2009 School 2.0 project, which marked an investment path towards a 1 & 1 model (one computer per student); a project equally frustrated by budget cuts due to the 2012 crisis (Area et al., 2014). Since then, there have been regional, European, national,   and   private   initiatives   that   have   provided   technological   material   to students,  technological  materials,  internet  connection,  and  other  resources;  all  this supported by the incorporation of these materials into the school curricula (González Rodero,   2020).   This   idea   has   been   recovered   and   put   into   practice   almost immediately due to the health crisis experienced with COVID-19, where teleworking and online teaching became the only possibility during confinement.
The  last  educational  law  of  2013  (LOMCE)  includes  in  its  first  pages  the importance of the use of ICT as a “key tool in teacher training and the learning of citizens throughout life” and adds “it is essential that the model of digitalization of the  school  that  is  chosen  is  economically  sustainable,  and  that  it  focuses  on  the creation  of  a  digital  ecosystem  at the  national  level” (Organic Law  8/2013  for  the improvement of educational quality). Currently, the law that is being implemented follows  this  same  path,  expanding  digital  possibilities  in  the  curriculum  and classrooms, providing didactic and training support (Organic Law 3/2020 by which Organic Law 2/2006 of Education is modified.).
Specifically,  if  we  look  at  Early  Childhood  Education,  we  can  see  how,  in  the curriculum  of  this stage  itself  (Royal  Decree  1630/2006  establishing  the  minimum teachings of the second cycle of Early Childhood Education) that sets the objectives and content, ICT or new technologies are mentioned fifteen times, which highlights their relevance in these early ages.
It is not surprising that the laws of the stage that concern the first ages include the use of ICT. We can observe, and this is shown by certain data, that children in the stages of 0 to 6 years old make prolonged use of digital media. According to certain studies, Spanish children between 0 and 3 years old spend an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes a day in front of a screen, a figure that rises 10 minutes in the range of 3 to 6 years old (Instituto Tecnológico de Producto Infantil y Ocio, 2019). This is why we should  not  be  surprised  by  the  early  access  of  children  to  pornography  through digital media (8 years old according to the latest study) (Ballester-Brage and Orte- Socías, 2019), or the gambling problems of young people (more than 44% of people with compulsive gambling disorders are under 26 years old) (FEJAR, 2018).
The current photography of the digital paradigm in which the 21st-century society is immersed is, thus, revealed, necessary for the understanding of the effects of the screens that we will address in later lines and that justify the general objective of knowing the consequences of the use of digital technologies in Early Childhood Education and the specific objectives of:


Technology, like any innovation, has the ultimate goal of remedying the difficulties that arise and making life easier. Possibly the most important need that new technologies seek to meet, like many other advances, is the time and effort devoted to carrying out certain tasks.
The  educational  field  has  not  passed  unscathed  by  the  technological  tsunami either. Possibly, the world of education is one where this technological immersion
and its consequences are most appreciated. Educational centers, as mentioned, have invested a lot of effort in updating their traditional schools to a 2.0 model, which has brought many benefits.
In the first place, one of the most visible and palpable benefits is the communicative   evolution   between   educational   agents   and   students.   A   new relationship framework has been established where the, almost antediluvian, notes on the agenda have become direct messages to parents on the digital platform. There are no longer intermediaries between teachers and parents, it is no longer essential to arrange a meeting to discuss relevant aspects, now with a simple chat or email the teacher can  contact  them. Thus,  thanks  to  these  platforms,  interactive  spaces  are created where teachers, students, and parents communicate and share material virtually and instantly. Thanks to this new model, there is greater control of students and  greater  participation  of  parents  in  the  school  environment,  "the  relationship between educators and students is changing, it is more democratic and participatory and not so authoritarian" (J.L. Fuentes et al., 2015, p. 39). Renowned authors on the subject,  like  Mark  Prensky  (2015),  call  this  new  paradigm  "co-association",  where parents and students have a new role, much more associative and involved with the school.
This conception of educational technology may seem somewhat superfluous to us since it is not only a means of communication or a bottomless well of information, it is also, as Burbules and Callister (2001) pointed out, “a potential territory for collaboration, a place where teaching and learning activities can take place” (p. 19), assumptions that have come true. From this new territory emerge, according to the authors,  new  educational  objectives,  such  as  education  in  critical  reading  or  the search for the veracity of information. The relationship created with technologies is not  unidirectional,  it  is  rather  one  of  reciprocity;  Not  only  do  ICTs  adapt  to educational and personal needs, but they also imply an adaptation by individuals to the  technological  requirements  and  knowledge  necessary  for  the  correct  use  of screens. It is, from this point, where the need for adequate training to the paradigm that is presented to us emanates, even more  so in teachers: the so-called Teaching Digital Competence, so essential for good teaching work with ICT (A. Fuentes et al., 2019).
As a second beneficial point, we can address the attraction of little ones to screens. With simple observation, we can affirm that screens are objects that exert a centripetal force on children (and not so children). This attraction is used in many cases as an excuse for the use of ICT in the classroom. Indeed, taking advantage of striking and motivating elements can be of great help for more meaningful learning and greater sustained attention (Mora, 2017). Many authors cling to the motivation argument  as  the  main  reason  for  introducing  screens  and  technological  tools  in classrooms  (di  Serio  et  al.,  2013;  A.  Fuentes  et  al.,  2019;  Palomar-Sánchez,  2009), although, it is possible to wonder if this motivation arises from an interest in the task that is being developed and what is being learned or is it simply the result of a sufficiently  strong  stimulus.  That  is,  if  the  motivation  is  intrinsic,  extrinsic,  ortranscendent, that it awakens astonishment (J.L. Fuentes, 2021). Still, as G.K. Chesterton (1967) pointed out, “when we are young children, we do not need fairy tales: we only need stories. Mere life is interesting enough” (p.39).
The third aspect that we could highlight as beneficial is the flexibility, adaptability, and  possibilities  that  technology  gives  us  to  work  in  the  classroom.  The  different software, apps, and tools make the materials adaptive, where the content is adapted to the needs of the users (Prieto Ferraro et al., 2003), such as, for example, those apps dedicated  to  learning  mathematics,  where  the  difficulty  increases  as  the  user overcomes goals. This framework of possibilities is not only in keeping with the materials used in the classroom. The possibility of creating new environments and new  activities  is,  on  many  occasions,  a  great claim  for  teachers,  being  able  to use methodologies very close to students such as gamification, which uses existing video games to create content and bring it closer to children’s reality.
Some of the benefits that we can extract from an ICT education are, thus, outlined. Many others could be explored, such as access to more information by students and teachers (Ruiz-Arroyo and Tesouro, 2013), the approach to other realities, or the promotion of the child's autonomy thanks to the independent management of ICT. The internet is here to stay and, as with the Gutenberg press, we cannot think of this as momentary. We must accept that our life has changed, hence the need to perfect the use of technology for the sake of better education.


Possibly,  before  outlining  the  negative  effects  of  screens  in  early  childhood education, it is worth clarifying  the dichotomy that is often generated in this field between  what  is  pedagogically  correct  and  what  is  psychologically  healthy.  It  is logical to think that the nirvana of almost any teacher is to get their students to learn quickly,  having  fun,  and  requiring  little  effort  on  the  part  of  the  teacher  and  the student (Luri, 2020a). This, which technology can apparently give us, is often in dissonance with the negative effects that the use of these devices has on children.
Nicolas Carr (2008, 2010) already warned us of the strange sensation that he felt when he saw how his brain, as he used the screens more, modified reading patterns and needs for visual stimuli. The inability to perform a slow reading, the desire for constant reception of information, and the immediacy with which he required any action,  denoted  how  his  mind  was  not  the  same  since  he  used  the  computer: “whether online or not, my mind now expects to absorb information the way the internet distributes it: in a rapid flow of particles” (Carr, 2010, p. 19).
Returning to the negative effects of ICT, different aspects can be highlighted. First of  all,  one  of  the  most  relevant  and  triggering  connotations  of  other  causes, negatively speaking, is the overstimulation caused by prolonged use of the screens. Overstimulation is the effect resulting from the excessive presence of stimuli that act on the person, not only due to the visualization of screens but also due to a frantic
rhythm in the child's life (Banderas, 2017). Music classes, English hours, competitions in  two  different  sports,  or  the  daily  viewing  of  educational  videos,  lead  to  a  life rhythm in childhood that can take its toll; overstimulation is the price to pay for it (Millet,  2016).  It  has  been  shown  that  precarious  learning  environments  where children do not receive the correct and necessary stimuli can be seriously detrimental to  their  holistic  development  and  more  so in  the  preschool  stage  (Madigan  et  al., 2019; Molnar et al., 2019). From this idea emanates the importance of a good Early Childhood Education; something that the OECD has warned in multiple reports for more than 20 years (OECD, 2001, 2006).
Now, screens overstimulate insofar as they contribute a very different rhythm to reality. One of the first studies conducted in 2009 determined that there was an average of 7.5 abrupt scene changes per minute when viewing 59 supposedly educational videos directed at children under 3 years of age (Samantha et al., 2009). It was shown that the more scene changes per minute, the more stimulating, eye- catching, and addictive the videos are; rhythms that differ greatly from reality and can trigger high levels of arousal and nervousness.
Second,  and  in  line  with  the  above,  is  the  problem  of  self-control  and  what  it entails. If the screens overstimulate and exhort the brain to high levels of arousal, it is logical to think that the greater the movement, the less control over oneself. Studies carried out by researchers such as Christakis (2011) reveal that, as expected, screens affect children's patience and self-control or aggressiveness (Bender et al., 2018), the longer the viewing time, the less the ability to wait for a reward (Madigan et al., 2020).
It is not surprising that in the last decade we have been experiencing a deep attention crisis, with an increase in diagnoses of attention problems (Sánchez-Rojo, 2019), as the third consequence. In the words of N. Katherine Hayles, we have gone from a Deep Attention that allowed us to focus our mind on a single task, to an Increased Attention, which forces us to constantly oscillate from focus, task, stimulus (Hayles,  2007)  like  if  we  lived  on  screens.  The  publication  of  works  that  relate exposure to ICT with attention problems (Swing et al., 2010) and its subsequent negative effect on academic performance (Rabiner et al., 2016), warn that the possible problem we face is not something trivial. We live in a digital world that commercializes and markets with the user's attention (Williams, 2021).
As a fourth aspect, something that was glimpsed previously stands out. It seems that it is not surprising that a 5-year-old can spend hours in front of a television but can hardly spend a few minutes reading or coloring quietly. Dependence on these devices is indisputable, not only on the part of the little ones but also on the part of young people and adolescents. The simple act of unlocking a mobile phone or tablet secretes high amounts of dopamine into the brain (Morgan et al., 2012), the hormone in charge of the reward circuit, the amount being greater when interacting with the screen  in  apps  such  as  social  networks  (Sherman  et  al.,  2016)  being  able  to  reach levels of  addiction  similar  to those  reached  by  the  consumption  of  narcotic drugs because for something to be considered an addiction, it is necessary to have a certain degree of dependence in the performance of that action (M.Á. Fuentes, 2008). This reward circuit, which sedates the user with a high degree of pleasure, is in which children interacting with screens are immersed. For this reason, it is not surprising, as we  mentioned  previously,  that  the  access  and  addiction  to  pornography  (a  great generator of dopamine) has increased (Ballester-Brage and Orte-Socías, 2019), as well as an increase in pedophile material on the social networks (J.L. Fuentes et al., 2015), a higher level of gambling among young people (FEJAR, 2018), or an increase in harassment among minors due to this exposure to the internet, as expressed by the General Prosecutor's Office in its annual report (General Prosecutor's Office of the State, 2019). Sometimes, such is the point of dependence of many children that for many parents it is a problem to turn off the television or remove the tablet from their child; crying, aggressiveness, and anger reveal what exposure to ICTs means for the brain, a sensation close to withdrawal.
Lastly, it is worth highlighting the different side effects that prolonged exposure to ICTs can have. Let us remember that children of infant age spend around 1 hour and 20 minutes a day viewing digital content (Instituto Tecnológico de Producto Infantil y Ocio, 2019). Let's think for a moment about the need of little ones for outdoor play, the need for movement, sensory experimentation, and socialization. The same report that revealed the hours of digital viewing also indicates that 85% of children between 0 and 12 years old spend fewer hours a day than they should in outdoor play. Dedicating  time  to  the  common  game  involves  learning  to  socialize,  developing communication  skills,  promoting  values  implicit  in  the  game,  and  accepting  rules and  decisions,  among  many  other  implications  (Isaacs,  2003).  Extracting  this  vital pleasure, as screens do, means in many cases mortgaging part of the time and health of little ones.
Other effects such as being overweight due to a sedentary lifestyle (Bawaked et al., 2019) and the display of food advertisements (most of them unhealthy) (Spitzer, 2012; Zimmerman and Bell, 2010), eye problems due to the blue light screens emit (Morgan et al., 2012), or the negative consequences on a correct night's rest (Vamping) (Chang et  al.,  2015)  are  some  of  the  indirect  consequences  that  can  lead  to  difficulties regardless of age but with a higher incidence in children.
Although  the  negative  effects  are  multiple  in  daily  life,  the  school  does  not safeguard itself from such consequences. There are, today more than ever, vast amounts of technological materials for the classroom: apps, projects, videos, digital whiteboards, and so on. Many publishers, pedagogues, and educational centers may advocate  these  methodologies  claiming  outstanding  results  on  the  learning  of different subjects but reality may be different. Although there are studies that defend the use of apps and software for teaching (Cabero-Almenara, 2010), there are other authors who affirm that there is no clear scientific evidence that supports the idea that the more technology, the greater the learning (Desmurget, 2020), it has even been shown   that   the   OECD's   own   data   in   PISA   do   not   confirm   the   technology- performance improvement relationship. According to a study, the students who use computers the most in school are the ones with the worst scores in the different PISA competencies.  Regardless  of  the  country,  demographics,  or  competition,  a  high  or very high use of these devices reports worse scores than those students who make a medium use (a couple of times a month) of technology media at school, becoming an element of enormous value for learning (Gorjón et al., 2020). This trend has been noted by many authors for years (Berninger and Abbott, 2006; Fuchs and Woessmann, 2004; OECD, 2015; Sharif and Sargent, 2006).
Knowing this, it is not surprising that the greatest technology entrepreneurs take their children to schools where technology is almost non-existent (Guimón, 2019). It seems that the best schools are no longer those where more money has been invested in technological resources, but those that have safeguarded the integrity of students by educating them in an analog and real medium. This is not to say that the simple use of ICT has a negative effect on children. As we will see in later lines, a good and correct technological approach can be beneficial; but it can never be affirmed that, simply by putting a tablet in the hands of a child, they will learn more than in a class with a pencil, paper, blackboard, and teacher (Herrán & Fortunato, 2017). Although this deserves a more thorough and diligent analysis.


The  methodology  that  has  been  put  into  practice  to  achieve  the  objectives  is hermeneutic. This methodology consists of analyzing from the theory what happens in education by relating the pragmatic with the theoretical (Gil Cantero, 2012). For this reason, in the first instance, an exhaustive search of the bibliography has been carried out,  as required in  this type of  study  (Navarro,  2021), on the positive and negative effects of ICT at a pedagogical and psychological level, going to the main databases such as GoogleScholar or Dialnet, selecting journals and reports with high indexing indexes (Scopus, JCR, etc.) published as of 2016; except for some studies before this date with great relevance, still having scientific validity. Furthermore, the keywords as search criteria were: ICT, Early Childhood Education, Positive Effects, Children, Negative    Effects,    Digitization, Internet, Screens, or Educational Technology.
Subsequently, these studied consequences are confronted with the uses that are given to digital technologies in Early Childhood Education classrooms. These uses will be divided into the main areas of knowledge of this stage for a better understanding and, thus, be able to propose, ultimately, certain criteria that allow good use of technologies in this age of great importance. The uses and apps have been selected after observing the number of downloads of these apps in the main search engines for apps and the elements offered by the main publishers in Spain as part of their didactic methodology.


We know that new technologies are, as mentioned, an implicit element in our way of  life.  On  many  occasions,  children  use  these  devices  for  different  uses,  be  they playful or educational. What we will describe below are the different uses that are given to these devices, using the most widely used apps and computer programs.

6.1. Teaching-learning of literacy

The teaching-learning of literacy is one of the main pivoting axes both in school and  in  families.  From  an  early  age,  children  are  encouraged  to  read,  write,  draw letters,  and  so  on.  For  this,  there  are  many  methods,  from  the  classical  syllabic method to the most modern ones that use games on digital boards, videos, and interactive  stories.  These  numerous mobile  apps and  digital  whiteboard  programs address endless possibilities. You can find apps for finger review of letters, writing of complete sentences with digital pens on the digital board, or reading texts and books (many of them with hyperlinks to increase motivation) on screens.
Assuming the risks generated by the simple fact of presenting a screen to the child, specifically, it is worth asking whether this interaction with ICT substantially favors the learning of reading and writing in young children.
For all learning to be efficient, it is necessary to do mental work, focus attention, working memory, and search for tasks with a cognitive load that allows assimilating what is done (Colom, 2018). The fact that a child copies a sentence in their notebook with a pencil forces their mind to control the stroke, the visual-motor movement of the hand, or to take great care not to break the writing instrument. This mental work that must be done is not even close to the minimum effort that they make when they have, for example, to join two parts of a sentence on the digital board by dragging with a finger (Spitzer, 2012). It has been shown on different occasions that there is a notable difference between writing on a keyboard or writing on paper, obtaining in the second more significant learning of what is written due to the intellectual work that is carried out (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014; van der Fels et al., 2015).
That said, something tells us that writing and reading on paper can bring benefits that similar actions on screens do not reach. Despite every attempt to exile the paper book, it never manages to disappear completely. For different reasons, we continue to prefer the writing and reading of a palpable book (Perrin, 2016) to the hyper-texted paragraphs that the digital age provides us (Carr, 2008; Williams, 2021). Possibly, the senses that come into play when holding a paper manuscript are much greater. The experience provided by a physical book, with its defined space and time, is difficult to be overcome by the digital (Luri, 2020b) that will prevail in preschool classrooms.

6.2. Teaching-learning of mathematics with ICT

Mathematics,  along  with  literacy,  make  up  a  duet  of  competencies  that  are essential in the first years of schooling. As in the previous discipline, this one has not been safeguarded from technological influences. There are interesting tools such as the  programming  of movement patterns with  robots or  the  construction  of  simple technological tools adapted to the age of children, which do not use screens. But, on the other hand, you only need to open a mobile app search engine and enter the children's section to be dazzled by several educational games; a multitude of them of mathematics.
Although there are apps that can be well focused, we must remember that María Montessori  already  underlined  the  importance  of  manipulative  and  self-correcting materials  in  school  (L´Ecuyer,  2020).  There  are  even  apps  with  the  Montessori surname that carry out mathematical activities supposedly using this methodology. For example, exercises of series, order, or puzzles with geometric shapes. Something contradictory,   since   one   of   the   characteristics   of   Montessori’s materials  is manipulation, impossible to achieve  on  a  screen  (García, 2017). The importance  of manipulation not only resides in the sensory factor, but it also encompasses a world of possibilities and possible solutions that the user can achieve, a characteristic that is difficult to assume on a screen with a single form of resolution or response.
In  early  childhood,  it  is  essential  to  teach,  not  to  do  mathematics,  but  to  think mathematically, to give tools so that the child can solve different problems of daily life (Dehaene, 2019); For this reason, 3-year-olds are not taught to use a calculator, a premise that should be respected before launching or using any of the educational apps. Although the different software may be in some way adaptive to the requirements of the child, it is difficult to evaluate the mathematical reasoning of an infant when faced with a problem, which is why the limitations that ICT resources in this area include can pose an obstacle to proper learning.

6.3. Teaching-Learning of Social and Experimental Sciences

Possibly, the study of science, both experimental and social, has been one of the fields that have  best-taken  refuge  from  bad  technological  influence.  It  is observed that, what was distant before, such as history, dangerous experiments, or remote places, is now a click away.
 There are a considerable number of resources that can be of great help in carrying out these subjects. Access to information, images, or other tools is a bastion that brings  together  aspects  such  as:  multiculturalism  with  the  visualization  of  images and   videos   from   other   countries;   history,   with   representative   drawings   and photographs; geography, with interactive maps; chemistry, with images from outer space or fast-motion videos that allow us to visualize the changes of days, seasons, and so on. Tools such as 3D or virtual reality have made it possible to bring distant realities closer to children. Being able to visit a museum thousands of miles away, talk  to other  people  from  other  cultures,  or see  a  rocket take  off  to Mars live,  are experiences that are impossible to achieve without technological help.
Despite all the mentioned benefits, this contains a danger: falling into the laziness of technological accessibility as a substitute for manipulative and experiential actions. We have known since Dewey (2004) that it is better to do than to see, and the idea of experimenting  rather  than  visualizing  must  be  taken  care  of.  The  educational
experience increases if what is taught is experienced. Technologies can never be a substitute for research or experimentation, only their complement.

6.4. Teaching-learning of art and music education

Art  and  music  education,  often  undervalued  in  school,  are  a  great  source  of knowledge.
Technologies have allowed, as in other disciplines, access to a lot of information in a short time. Pictures, sculptures, artistic constructions, musical creations, sounds of any kind, and songs of all genres can be viewed with just a swipe of the finger. This, which a priori seems like a great contribution, and it is, can be a problem since the excess of information and resources can make you lose the critical sense of art. If we refer to music, for example, anyone can create a composition, upload it to a digital platform, and share it with the world. Not all music is good, not all music has that groove that attracts (Levitin, 2008), and, consequently, not all music educates or not in the same way. Like everything in education, the learning that can be assimilated can be enormously formative but not very educational, since what is learned may not be  morally  beautiful,  which  would  not  respect  the  criteria  of  what  is  properly educational   (Esteve,   2012).   Awakening   emotions,   feelings,   sensations,   are   the formative  powers  of  music,  only  achievable  with  good  choice  criteria  (López- Quintas, 2013).
In the same way, the apps we find for coloring or playing the piano on a screen may not provide real learning. Let us remember the importance of manipulation and experimentation through the senses. The interesting thing about drawing on paper or playing the piano is the perception of different sensations, the control of one's own body, the choice of different techniques, and the freedom that analog materials give. Freedom in art education is the seed of creation, any artist (or future artist) who does not have freedom of creation, will not be able to develop their talent or self-concept (in the case of art education) (Lowenfeld and Brittain, 1970; Pellicer et al., 2020). The use  of  ICT  tools that do not  promote  free  creation  or  perception  of  what is being worked on can pose a serious obstacle to the artistic development of the person.

6.5. Teaching-learning of motor education

Although  ICTs  have  had  little  impact  on  psychomotor  education,  it  should  be noted that screens have indirectly influenced the correct psychomotor development of  children  (Madigan  et  al.,  2019).  A  multitude  of  platforms  have  been  created  to share  motor  resources  and  different  materials  for  the  classroom  but,  as  we  saw previously,  the  hours  dedicated  to  free  movement  have  dropped  dramatically  in children (Instituto Tecnológico de Producto Infantil y Ocio, 2019).
Correct psychomotor development is based on the normal movement of the child through playing, exercising skills such as jumping, crawling, running, or throwing (Aguirre, 2005). With less dedication to outdoor play and the exercise of gross motor skills   due   to   the   hours   spent   consuming   technological   content,   good   motor progression could be compromised.
Although  some  studies  defend  the  use  of  video  games  for  fine  motor  practice, decision-making, speed of movements, or improved attention (Qiu et al., 2018; Revuelta-Domínguez and Guerra-Antequera, 2012), the reality is that they can bring more evils than benefits, accentuating the problems of aggressiveness (Bender et al., 2018; Grossmann, 2015; Tejeiro-Salguero et al., 2009) among other already mentioned effects. The importance of play and movement in everyday life must prevail over the promises of the screens.


It was Aristotle who in the 4th century B.C. described the three virtues of understanding: wisdom, knowledge, and prudence (Aristotle, 2001). The latter, also called practical intelligence or phrónesis, is possibly the key that opens the door to the compression of previous lines. Although it may seem like a negative and pessimistic view of technological reality, the truth is that everything, in its proper measure and
with a good approach, can be of great help: being prudent when choosing a method with or without technology. Technology in itself is not bad, it is a contemporary element that we cannot turn our back on but it is worth wondering if it is being used correctly or simply makes our lives easier by having to pay a high price for it.
Educational  innovation,  which  is  talked  about  so  much,  does  not  have  to  go through the introduction of screens in the classroom (Herrán and Fortunato, 2017). ICTs do not assure anything; they are not the ideal solution to all the educational problems of our time. A master class, although scarcely innovative, can teach much more than a game on a screen; although it seems that, nowadays, to say this is to fall into old-fashioned pedagogies.
To maintain that prudential virtue, nothing but knowledge is required. It is not necessary  to  be  technophobic  to  use  ICT  well,  just  good  training  and  information would  suffice.  First,  training  teachers  to  know  how  to  discern  if  screens  can contribute more than take away; look at the fine print. Second, guidance to parents on  the  risks  of  exposing  their  children  to  lightboxes.  If  the  risks  involved  in  the technologies were popularly known, other types of decisions would possibly be made.
Regarding Early Childhood Education, we have seen how, at such a crucial stage for the proper development of children, technologies often play a too important role in  the  child's life,  posing  a  danger  to health  and  learning.  Getting  away  from  the glass, knowing and being dazzled by the offline world that surrounds us can be a better investment for student learning. It is not only necessary to question whether it
is good to use technology in the classroom but whether these technologies educate. A math app that can correctly teach whole numbers doesn't have to be educational. If the simple fact of being exposed to the screen generates addiction, if this leads to the visualization of content not suitable for children, if, after all, it does not make  the person  who  interacts  with  it  better,  we  can  say  that  they  can  teach,  but  do  they educate?
These  reflections before the use of ICT in  children  can  be  a  crucial first step  to bring  that practical  intelligence  or  phrónesis  into play.  Not everything  stimulating, attractive,  easy,  and  motivating  has  to  be  educational.  Hence  the  task  of  Infant teachers and parents is to know and make a deep reflection on the use of ICT in the daily life of children.


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Enrique Alonso-Sainz
Graduated  in  early  childhood  education  from  the  Universidad  Complutense  de Madrid, Primary Education from the Universidad Camilo José Cela, and a Master's Degree in Quality and Improvement of Education from the Universidad Autónoma
de  Madrid.  Member  of  the  Research  Group  on  Supranational  Educational  Policies (GIPES) and the #LobbyingTeachers: Fundamentos teóricos, estructuras políticas y prácticas sociales de las relaciones público-privadas en materia de profesorado en España work team (PID2019-104566RA-I00/AEI/10.13039/501100011033).  Professor  at  the Universidad
Católica de Murcia (UCAM) and the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR).
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