Carefully collected observations indicate that judicious computer use may offer gains for children over three years of age.
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Many researchers recommend against exposing children under three years old to computers. Computers simply do not match children’s learning style at this age, where learning occurs predominantly through the eyes, ears, mouths, hands, and legs. Computers simply don’t meet the developmental requirements and needs of most children under three.
However, research has shown that three and four year olds who use computers in conjunction with adults and with supporting activities that reinforce the major objectives of the chosen activity have significantly greater developmental gains when compared to children without computer experiences in similar classrooms – including gains in intelligence, non-verbal skills, structural knowledge, long-term memory, manual dexterity, verbal skills, problem solving, abstraction, and conceptualization.
In spite of the many benefits, experts also point out drawbacks to preschool computer use. Some express concern for the children’s physical health. Others cite psychological and developmental concerns. Computers and computer chairs and desks are rarely adjusted to child height, which can be problematic for the still-developing muscles and bones of preschoolers.
Personal computers (PCs) are now owned by 75% of adults in the United States and by around nearly 400 million people worldwide. Young children today encounter PC-related technologies at an early age. In some situations, screen time steals time from other necessary activities that support important areas of development. On the other hand, banning any PC use prevents the acquisition of computer literacy and other helpful skills. By making careful choices, limiting PC use and supervising PC activities, parents can selectively expose their children to supportive technological choices.
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.