Computers and Kids: How Early Is Too Early?
It is not surprising to see little children highly adept at controlling and manipulating a computer. But many parents are concerned about this phenomenon.
With continuous technological advancements happening all over the world, it is quite inevitable that computers will soon become as ubiquitous as televisions. Statistics show that almost all homes in all developed countries are equipped with computers. Children are now more exposed to this technology than ever before.
Now it is not surprising to see little children highly adept at controlling and manipulating this highly useful and powerful tool. But parents are concerned about this phenomenon and fearful about the welfare of their children. Many are asking this question, “At what age can I allow my kids to start using a computer?”
There are various opinions concerning this issue, most of them lie at the extremes. Some say that children should never be allowed to use computers while others say that kids should be allowed access to computers without restrictions. My opinion regarding this issue somewhat lies in between these two extremes.
I believe that computers are very valuable tools that can be very useful in any child’s education. Parents, who are too lax, need to be discerning in how they let their children use a computer. This machine only becomes unsafe for children when parents do not provide proper guidance for its use. Those who are very busy with their businesses or jobs, tend to use computers as substitute companions for their kids. (Remember how the T.V was once the babysitter?)
On the other hand, parents whose opinions lie on the other extreme believe that computers are truly dangerous for kids. A recommendation, made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, was released after conducting a study on the use of television, states that parents should “Discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years, and encourage more interactive activities that will promote proper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together.”
A misinterpretation of this recommendation has led parents to believe that computers can inhibit normal brain development and trigger negative effects in their children. Parents who belong to this group should not be blind to the fact that computers have already conquered the world. So why not try to explore the many ways in which computers can also be useful in developing children’s academic skills?
Research has shown that there are several computer software that feature educational games that are well-designed and fun. They were carefully created to promote proper brain development in kids. So when buying software for your children, you should be highly discriminating in choosing from a myriad of selections that are available in the market. It is a sad fact that many developers are just banking on the rising popularity of educational computer games hence, software that is not really beneficial for kids, are released without a second thought. Bear in mind that only those games that are interactive and reactive will really help your child learn.
Experts say that it is all right to let infants play computer games as long as they elicit responses from them. There are a number of online games that available for free. Try visiting www.sesamestreet.com, www.fisher-price.com, www.kiddiesgames.com and www.babyfungame.com. Baby games featured in these sites are filled with bright and colorful graphics. Babies just have to press random keys on the keyboard to control the games. This teaches them the concept of cause and effect.
There are also toddler games that are more challenging than those for babies. They are very interactive and have more educational content. They are often created in a way that positively builds a child’s self-esteem. Through these games, toddlers can learn shapes, colors, letter forms, numbers, patterns, and reading simple words. They help kids learn to identify and observe.
However, you should limit the amount of time that your children spend in playing computer games so that they can still have time to do other activities that will develop their gross motor, fine motor and social skills. For those who have older kids enforce strict schedules in their use of computers so they don’t end up neglecting their studies. Just remember that computers are not the ultimate tools to your child’s learning, they are just one of the many alternatives that are at your disposal.