Technology is everywhere. Smartphones, tablets, and computers allow today’s families to do everything from buying clothes and shoes to ordering the evening meal. In addition, today’s kids are growing up in a digital household where parents work from home, and children are often schooled in an online classroom.
It’s no surprise then that children are curious about digital devices at earlier ages than ever before. Naturally, this leads parents to ask: What is the appropriate age for a computer?
Infants to Age 2
Children at this age enjoy pushing buttons, bright colors, music, and lively sounds. So while parents of infants and toddlers have views that differ, remember that infants and toddlers do not yet have the physical dexterity to move a mouse or play a complex game. Therefore, regular screen time at this point isn’t recommended.
Preschoolers Ages 3-5
At this age, kids have longer attention spans and better small motor skills. So it’s a great time to begin learning the basics of how to use a tablet or computer. Kids practice moving the mouse, pushing keys, dragging and dropping, and swiping. In addition, parents find many fun learning games for kids to provide enjoyment and educational value. Digital activities and games that introduce the alphabet, rhyming words, and basic math principles make early learning fun. Online stories and songs provide valuable vocabulary, math, and language experiences for preschool kids.
As children grow older, the appeal of digital games grows, but the need for a computer may arise for school assignments or online learning. With a computer or tablet, kids interact with online teachers or tutors, research a topic in a digital encyclopedia. Word processing software allows for the typing of reports and research papers and making presentations. Online music, art, and dance classes are appealing options for school-agers as well as gaming groups and book clubs. With this additional usage, consider establishing family rules and guidelines for technology use in the household. How much screen time is acceptable is an important boundary to discuss and implement in the beginning.
Further, provide a central location in the household where computer time is monitored. Supervision prevents over-usage and ensures online safety for all children in the family. Teaching children not to share personal information online is an important safety tip. And, the importance of not sharing passwords is essential. While you monitor your children as they work or play, it is impossible to see each and every site or link that gets clicks, so installing robust virus protection software is a must.
Today, technology brings endless educational resources beyond kids math learning game and convenience and efficiency for parents. Face-to-face video calls with grandparents, virtual field trips, and work meetings around the globe make the world seem a little smaller. Today’s kids live in a digital world, so let’s prepare them to use technology responsibly and safely.