Development Dialogue: Tapping Technology to Promote Early Childhood Development: Challenge Profile

Tapping Technology to Promote Early Childhood Development

A child’s earliest years present a unique window of opportunity to ensure good outcomes later in life. Early childhood development programs that include education, health, nutrition and social protection components have proven to be effective in several countries, but despite this growing evidence, estimates show that more than 200 million children in developing countries under the age of 5 will not reach their development potential.

Early childhood is a critical time because the brain develops most rapidly in the first years of life and affects the lifelong capacity of each child to learn. Stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults are necessary to benefit the healthy development of young children, and high-quality early childhood care and education programs can improve children’s chances for success in later life.

Early childhood development can also help level the playing field from the early stages of life. Interventions directed at the poorest children can offset negative trends, as well as promote quality learning and physical growth. In fact, investing in young children is one of the smartest investments a country can make. Examples of programs that work well include those that promote parenting education, preschool enrollment, children's educational media, and training for child care workers to improve quality in early child development programs.

Since inequalities established in early childhood contribute to lifetime differences, cost-efficient and widespread dissemination of effective programs is urgently needed. How can technology and media increase capacity and reach of parenting programs? How can radio and television be used to better promote care-giving behaviors? What are the most effective ways to expand educational media and reach high-risk children? What policies are needed to prioritize programs and galvanize investment?

Join development leaders, expert practitioners, and policy-makers in this two-week online forum to discuss how to use technology and media to support early childhood development and ensure that all children thrive during their early years.