This study explored young children's social interaction with their peers at the computer area in a Korean public kindergarten classroom. This classroom had two computers that children could use during their free choice time every day. There were two teachers and 20 children in this full-day kindergarten classroom. The free choice time was 45- to 50- minutes a day and all children played at each activity area during this time including the computer area.
In this study, the researcher explored how young children interact with their peers in a Korean public kindergarten classroom. Patterns of young children's social interaction with peers in this classroom were examined.
Children's social interaction is the action of giving and taking information that results in children's knowledge construction and cognitive development that can be accomplished through peer-to-peer interactions. This social interaction is not merely the exchanging of information or just sharing emotions. It should be more than simple responses. Effective social interaction that leads to learning results from children helping one another and solving problems together.
The research questions were as follows: (1) What are the patterns of kindergarten children's social interaction with peers at the computer area in a Korean public kindergarten classroom? (2) What supports kindergarten children's social interaction with peers at the computer area in a Korean public kindergarten classroom? (3) What hinders kindergarten children's social interaction with peers at the computer area in a Korean public kindergarten classroom?
The primary results of this study were as follows. The patterns of young children's social interaction found include: parallel play, conflicts, sociable interaction, knowledge construction through positive interaction and through negative interaction, and non-verbal communication. The factors of supporting and hindering children's social interactions were explored. The factors of supporting young children's social interactions were the connection of computer activities with classroom themes, the user-friendly software design, the working pairs at the computer area, and children's engagement to the same works at the different computers. The factors of hindering children's social interactions were teacher's interruptions, the negative aspects of some software programs, and the environmental limitation.
Children tended to interact with one another when using open-ended programs rather than closed programs. This research study had two implications for educators seeking to use the computer technology for young children in early childhood educational settings. Since this study was a case study rooted in the traditions of naturalistic inquiry, this study was not meant to be able to generalize to other investigations. Rather, it was conducted to explore, in depth, the issues associated with young children's social interaction with peers at computer area. The results are meant to build on and add to the collective body of research that has been conducted in both the areas of technology integration and social interaction in early childhood education. Through there is still a limited body of research in the area of young children's social interaction with peers by using computer technology in early childhood education settings, the results of this study provide a possible working model of how young children in one classroom are able to successfully interact with peers at computer area.
In almost every classroom in Korea, there is more than one computer in preschool or kindergarten classroom. When teachers are well educated about how to integrate computer technology in early childhood education settings, when young children are encouraged to use computers positively with their friends, and when developmentally appropriate software programs are used at computer areas, the children's developmental achievements might be optimized.