They're getting younger and younger, all the time. According to new research, on average, kids start using computers at the age of six. That's a drop of almost two years since 2005, down from 8 years to 6.7 years old. But do computer skills offer preschoolers an academic advantage? The answer seems to be yes and no.
According to studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of American kids 4, 5, and 6 years old use a computer several times a week.
But does that really help the child? Dr. Carol Drummond, a psychologist, says "studies have shown that there are improvements in hand-eye coordination. I think that if they're interactive games and creative games, that can be very educational for them."
Some experts say computers may help pre-school kids develop "school readiness" skills. For example, they can learn colors, shapes, letters and numbers. But it's a solitary activity and Dr. Drummond explains that's the downside, "I think the real harm is when a child gets glued to the computer alone and misses out on other opportunities." Opportunities like sports and games where they use their arms, legs, and their imagination. Experts say kids also need lots of time reserved for their family and friends. And how young is too young to start using the computer? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two not be exposed to computers at all.
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