Should Preschoolers Be Exposed To Computers?

preschoolers and computersIs preschool too early to put kids in front of a computer screen, or is it the only way to prepare them for the future? This important question is causing a great deal of debate, although the most popular response is that kids need to learn how to use computers but only in moderation.

Limiting Preschooler Computer Time

Preschoolers should have exposure to computers and other forms of technology. This is the world we live in and the sooner kids have experience with technology the better prepared they will be for the future. That being said, it’s important that preschoolers and other young kids don’t have too much time on the computer, especially unsupervised.

In fact, according to research analysis from Princeton University, “Excessive, unmonitored use of computers, especially when combined with use of other screen technologies, such as television, can place children at risk for harmful effects on their physical, social, and psychological development.” 

Kids need social interaction, physical activity, and so many other things that computer screens could never provide.

The same Princeton University analysis mentioned above found that 70% of kindergarten through third-grade teachers ask students to do some work on the computer each week. That means, if your child is prepared to use a computer they will really excel on these projects. If your child has never used a computer before, they are going to be behind the majority of their peers when the time comes.

Even though it’s important for kids to spend some time on the computer at school, it’s important to note that computer usage in elementary school averages to only 10 minutes per day. That means no child needs to be using the computer excessively, just enough to know what how to use it comfortably.

Even as kids get older too much computer time is a bad thing. It’s been found that teens that spend more time on the computer experience greater feelings of loneliness and depression.

4 Big-Time Consequences Of Too Much Computer Usage

Playing on the computer may seem more productive than watching TV, and sometimes that’s true. Yet, both have similarly negative impacts when overused. Children that watch TV for 5-hours each day are at a greater risk for developing obesity, as well as a number of other issues. There hasn’t been as much research on computers just yet, but researchers assume the findings will be very similar.

The scary thing is children between the ages of 2 to 7 with access to video games, TV and a computer are consuming about 5-hours of screen time a day on average. If your child is consuming this much digital media they are at risk for:

1. Vision strain is a concern for children that spend too much time staring at screens.

2. Children that abuse computer usage are more likely to lag behind peers in important areas of development only exercised and strengthened through non-technological endeavors and physical activities.

3. Children may also experience early onset of carpal tunnel, arthritis and other issues relating to the hands, wrists and even back. This is based on the positioning and overuse of the body when we type and sit at a computer.

4. Lack of social skills may become an issue if a child spends more time at the computer than interacting with peers.

How Much Computer Time Is Healthy For Preschoolers?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 2-years-old should spend 0 hours a day watching TV, DVDs or interacting with the computer. If your child is 3-years or older their screen time should be limited to one-hour or less per day.

Research has found children 3-years and older that use the computer or play computer games for less than one-hour per day are more socially satisfied than children that don’t play any virtual games at all. Thus showing there is some importance to children having exposure to computer games. Although, children that play on the computer for one-hour or less are also more satisfied than their peers that spend countless hours on electronic devices. 

What Is Your Child Doing Online?

The activities your child uses the computer to participate in play an important factor in how much computer time is too much. There are many beneficial online learning games that children can learn and grow from, specifically designed to improve certain developmental skills. When used in moderation this offers a big helping hand to parents.

As much good as the Internet contains, there is perhaps even more information floating around out there that you’d never want your child to encounter. This is why Internet supervision is incredibly important, not only in regards to how much time your child spends on the computer, but also what they are doing on the computer.

Overall, there are many advantages to exposing children 3-years and older to computers. These advantages must be carefully dosed out and not overused in order for your child to reap the benefits without experiencing the drawbacks.

At ABC Learning we offer a full computer lab for our students to learn and explore the world of technology. The thing is, we’d never leave the kids in there all day, or even for hours at a time. Instead, it’s all about short bursts of computer playtime and plenty of supervision.

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