The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Educators’ Perspectives on Digital Play
This research aimed to explore the perspectives of early educators regarding the impacts of digital play on preschool children’s physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development and the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their perspectives. Besides, the present study investigated the challenges perceived by early educators when implementing digital play. By adopting a qualitative phenomenological research design, 24 interview questions were developed based on the current study’s research aims. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five early educators recruited via purposive sampling in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. The collected data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had a minor to non-existent influence on the perspectives of early educators towards digital play. Challenges faced due to the implementation of digital play include overstimulation, technological instability, and limited availability of technological devices. In virtual lessons, early educators faced the limitation of virtual instruction while the children faced difficulty in getting adult support. Therefore, parents and early educators should carefully monitor the content of digital play exposed to children. The government may improve children’s education through strategic financial aid for kindergartens and low-income families. Moreover, policymakers and employers may set flexible policies which increase parents’ availability to support their children’s education. As a novel study that investigated the potential influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on early educators’ perspectives towards digital play, this research has provided fundamental implications for government, early educators, parents, and society in the mid-pandemic and post-pandemic society to adjust their practices in promoting preschool children’s healthy development.
Keywords: child development, digital play, early educator, COVID-19 pandemic, preschool children.
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