Dr. Barbara Huggins

Kids & Computers

December 14, 2006

Kids & Computers -  December 14, 2006When should a child be introduced to the virtual world of computers? Well, before you head off to the computer store this holiday season, you might want to hear what Dr. Mom has to say about the benefits and the hazards of this potential learning tool.

When should a child be introduced to a computer? There are those who suggest that children as young as 6 months can benefit from computer use. But is there any proven benefit to exposing these young children to a computer? Research is finding problems in the emotional and physical development of those children who participate in regular computer use at an early age.

The average American child spends one to three hours per day on the computer doing homework, talking online with friends, and playing games. In fact, 90% of school-age children have computer access at home or in school; 54 million children in the US alone use a computer at home or in school. An estimated $50 million is spent each year on software programs for young children. And much of that $50 million is spent toward the purchase of "lapware," programs intended for adults to use with children ages 6 months to 2 years.

With the current emphasis on technology in education, many parents and schools are introducing computers to children at young ages. Although certain forms of technology can be very helpful to young children with disabilities, the benefit of computer use in very young children may affect physical and emotional development.

Children spending too much time at the computer may experience physical and developmental problems:

Research has also shown that children are influenced by what they see and hear, especially at very young ages. To help parents make informed choices, many entertainment companies are now using a ratings system. Movies have been rated for several years, computer and video games are now rated. Even though games and movies are rated, it is up to parents to protect their children from exposure to violence, drug use, sexual situations and strong language.

Parents should not feel the need to purchase a computer in order to enhance their young child's educational development. If you already have a computer in your home you may consider limiting the time your child is allowed to play on the computer.

Additional Resources:

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