Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Too Early?

It is time to address a question that has been lingering in my mind for about four or five months.
What is an appropriate age to get children on the computer?

What targeted this question was when I worked at a Day Care this past semester. I was with the toddlers (the youngest group at day care, between one and two and a half) and as a reward they got "computer time" if they were good. Some of these children were not even talking clearly and to put them on a computer seemed a little bizarre to me, but I went along with it. So the teacher had groups of three toddlers on the computer at a time. In my mind it was disastrous, and I really doubt that they got any benefit from it. Just as the program which was I believe Arthur learns to _____ (I can't remember what exactly) one of the children would press a button and shut off the computer. Then when it got started again something else would happen. I personally think there was other worth while activities that children this age need to master before a computer is a good thing. Learning to count, learning to talk properly, learning to make decisions, learning fine motor skills and learning gross motor skills are all assets when using the computer.
I think children should be able to enjoy the small things in life free from the computer until they are old enough to grasp the idea OF the computer and understand what it is used for. Thats my rant for the day, I would really love to hear everyone's personal ideas about a good age to introduce computers. And yes, I know that some children are ready before others, but using age was the easiest word without confusion!!


Amber said...

Crystal I fully agree with you. I believe that children between the ages of one and two and a half years old are way to young to be on the computer. They need to learn how to orally communicate, how to share, how to make friends, how to cooperate with other children, etc. There are so many other important lessons that children that age need to learn first. Young children need to be physically active. They need to run around and play. In today's society, we are already struggling with obesity, especially in North America. Do we really need to reward our children by encouraging them to sit on their butts and play on the computer at such a young age? Everyone knows that as these children grow and develop they will have plenty of computer time ahead of them. Instead, lets reward them with something that will have a more long term positive effect, like playing a game of soccer or playing dress up. Spark their imaginations a little more!

Janine said...

Hi Crystal, I worked in a daycare as well and there are benefits to using the computer at that age but at the same time there are better rewards for children than computer time. The benefits for children are exposure to the technology, hand eye coordination, familiarization with the computer and there are some good things to do with the computer in a classroom with that age group. If you have access to a smart board it would be an excellent resource because you can teach colors, numbers, anything through an interactive screen that is easier for the children to use. I also agree with Crystal that physical activity is key when in a daycare because they are learning how to use their body. They also learn to be active when they are children... if they are taught to sit infront of a tv or computer all day that is what they are more than likely going to grow up doing. But there is a balance and as future teachers that is what we need to assess. Hope that helps a little.

Mullins Mind said...

I have a two-year-old and I would never think to reward him with computer time or TV time for that matter. I think it would be a huge waste of time to sit a child that young down at a computer by himself and expect him to gain anything from it. My child does however have a fascination with the computer, whether it's all the buttons or the music and videos he sees on it he is very curious about the computer.
Most children this age do not have the abilities to use a computer the way older people do but that does not mean they should not be at a computer. I regularly sit at the computer with my 2 year old and play him funny videos or visit sites like Sesame Street and listen to counting and stories, teach him about animals and a lot more. I let him play with the mouse and I will position it correctly and tell him to click for me. I let him pound on the keyboard, we look at family pictures together. I do not think that children need to have mastered all the skills that you have mentioned before they are introduced to the computer. The computer is a great aide for teaching and learning if it is used properly.
I also have two older children 5 and 7, I would say they started playing games on sites like FunBrain and Sesame Street by themselves when they were 3.5. My 7 year old knows how to get around on the computer very well and my 5 year old is just starting to "google it" (with spelling assistance from us).
Children (and adults) need to lead balanced lives, it is up to adults to make sure this happens.