Using technology with 3-4 year olds

Child, parent and iPad

Technology, the internet and digital devices are now part of everyday life. It’s important for parents and carers to help children use technology in a way that is safe and helpful to them.

We have looked at the current research around technology and young children to share these top tips.

  • You are the best person for your child to learn from. Technology works best when you and your child play together using it, just like a book.
  • Everything is about balance. Make sure that time your child spends playing with technology is also balanced with other activities, like playing outside or playing ‘offline’ games together.
  • When you and your child are playing with technology, make sure you connect it to other things your child is learning. For example, if you enjoy baking together see if there are any games or online recipes you can find together.

You are the best person to decide how much time with technology is enough for your child. But remember: if you are always using technology, they will too!

As they are getting older, your little one will get better at using technology, so they may want to spend longer on devices. You may want to give them a timer to count down how long they have left to use a device, to make sure there are no tantrums when it is taken away.

Make sure any technology they use is age appropriate.

Look out for technology that can support your 3 to 5 year old to:

  • Play more complicated games.
  • Listen to and repeat longer stories, songs and rhymes.
  • Share with others.
  • Make up their own stories or games.
  • Link sounds to letters, eventually helping them to read.
  • Begin to write letters, words and short sentences.

Skype and other video messaging services can provide great opportunities for your child to develop their listening, attention and speaking skills.

Try to be around to help your child understand what is going on when they are using technology.

Other useful resources

Take a look at our list of handy apps to help your 3 to 4 year old learn.

  • Parent’s guide to television
  • The CBBC website has useful information about toddlers and tablets.
  • Read our tips on technology with 0-3 year olds