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Them’s Fighting Words – There is No Right or Wrong Time to Introduce Your Child to the Family Computer?

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:36pm

I must be feeling a bit crabby today since I seem to be violently disagreeing with statements on some of my favorite web sites. Where I generally take a First Amendment approach to most articles I read, today I felt compelled to comment on alarmist journalism at Blogher … a site I read, admire and support.

I then found the courage to go back and address an article in About.com Parenting that has been bugging me for 3 days. At the bottom of this page you can see a “Latest Parenting News” feed. A few days ago, this clip turned up.

Introducing Your Child to the Computer - November 04, 2007 - About.com: I've always been a bit of a computer geek. Me and computers go way back, so there really weren't any guidelines back then about when to introduce my son...

Since my DS is rapidly closing in on 6, I’ve been considering when I might introduce him to the computer and why. Last summer, after much begging and despite our ambivalent feelings my DH and I, allowed him to spend some time at a learning center on their computer. That has been the extent of his involvement with the computer to date. My feelings now are…that will remain the extent of his contact until he reaches third grade when it is introduced at his school as a research tool.


And so….I clicked over to About.com to find these words:

There is no right or wrong time to introduce your child to the family computer. Much like deciding when to buy the first bike, or when your child can go out alone with friends, the choice will be based on your parenting style, your values and, most importantly, your child’s readiness. …

Between the ages of 1 and 2, your child will start to understand the basics of cause and effect, as well as the need to be gentle with the keyboard…...If your child is interested and you are ready to take the plunge, this is a good time to start to introduce the basics of the keyboard and the mouse.

What?

“One or two is a good time to introduce your child to a computer”? Why?

And did you say “There is no right or wrong time to introduce your child to the family computer”? Huh?

Hmmmm…obviously someone has not been keeping up with the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics which recommends:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 have NO screen time and those over age 2 years spend less than 2 hours per day with screen media, because excessive viewing has been linked to a plethora of physical, academic, and behavioral problems.

Many would argue that this is actually a fairly liberal approach. In crunchy circles, no screen time often is extended to 5 or 6. Waldorf schools recommend no screen time until 9. My philosophy has, to a large extent dovetailed with the AAP’s. We enforced no screen time until 2. Since then screen time has been severally limited and has not included commercial TV or computer time (except for the occasional out-of-home experience). So, I was somewhat appalled to find a well regarded parenting site announcing that “there is not right or wrong time”.

The right time to introduce a child to a computer is, in my mind is when a child is ready to use it to accomplish something, i.e. research, communicate or calculate. Nine or ten seems about right. Face it, really how hard is it to gain keyboard and mouse skills?

Call me crazy but when a site of this caliber directly contradicts the AAP, as well as what, in expert child development circles is considered common knowledge, I worry. As A “citizen journalist”, I take great care to check my sources and clearly indicate when I am expressing opinion vs. fact. I just wish everyone did the same.

Whoa…I must be in a bad mood….This is my opinion…contradictions and other thoughts welcome…please!




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