According to the US Department of Education, “The thoughtful use of technology by parents and early educators can engage children in key skills such as play, self-expression, and computational thinking which will support later success across all academic disciplines and help maintain young children’s natural curiosity.” https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/principles/
In order to ensure healthy use, they came up with four key guidelines:
Guiding Principle #1: Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.
Guiding Principle #2: Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
Guiding Principle #3: Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.
Guiding Principle #4: Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.
Based on these key principles from the Department of Ed, technology supports all of the CASEL competencies - when it is used appropriately. This means that digital tools should be developmentally appropriate, digital citizenship should be introduced early on at all grade levels, and technology use should be more active than passive.
For example, many elementary school students have used technology tools like Google Classroom and Google Meets for online learning. These tools are built for connection and collaboration and definitely strengthened relationships, provided lots of interaction and increased access to learning when schools were closed. Even though the Google Tools met all of the guiding principles, an understanding of SEL can enhance the whole experience. Students in all grade levels need to develop skills in social awareness and relationship skills as they interact with other students and their teachers, they need self-awareness and self-management as they navigate lessons and complete tasks, and responsible decision making is also at the heart of technology-based remote learning because students do have more autonomy and opportunities to make decisions throughout their school day.