Techno Tots

 

Techno Totsfrom 2007

How Soon Should a Toddler Begin Using a Computer?

Tips on fostering computer literacy in very young children

Many parents who use a computer at home experience an interesting

phenomenontheir children will probably take an interest in playing with the

“toy” as well. How soon is too soon to start teaching the little ones the basics,

such as turning on the computer and using a mouse?

Many children are able to clutch onto a mouse as soon as they are able to

start gripping and stacking blocks, around age two. They can rapidly develop the

hand-eye coordination it takes to watch what is on the screen and move their

mouse-hands to respond to directions. Parents will still need to load software

(Internet activities are not recommended for this age groupthe ads and other

pop-ups may prove to be too distracting and confusing for them, plus clicking on

links may take them far from their original focus) and will certainly want to stay

around to supervise, particularly if this is the only computer in the house (in this

case, the computer’s safety is at stake!). Many of the software programs

available are very user-friendly; narrated by a gentle-voiced person who gives

directions, larger than average mouse-pointer, colorful graphics, and filled with

familiar animals and characters. There is plenty of practice given for pointing and

clicking.

Around the age of three, mathematical and alphabetical skills can be

enhanced, still by software. Many of the programs that are available focus on

counting, shape recognition and patterns for math-readiness and letter

identification for reading-readiness. This can carry into age four, up to the child’s

entrance to kindergarten.

At the time a child enters kindergarten and starts to interact heavily with

others who share his/her interests, the Internet can be introduced. Peers will

have an influence on what a child is interested in learning about, and parents

can accommodate by having a list of pre-screened sites available. Parents may

want to look for sites that have some educational value and those that are low

on advertising hype (or it may end up costing a fortune!). Children should be

directed to ask before clicking on anything that may take them away from the

original site. Be prepared for some frustration with broken links, long loading

times, and directions that need to be read to the child. But, also be prepared for

a lot of exploring and newfound independence as your child’s computer skills

increase, thereby preparing him or her to be technologically literate. 

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