Early computer use (under 3 years old) may harm children in developing important skills, such as crawling, walking, talking and socializing.
Computers are effective at an early stage (3 to 4 years old) when they provide concrete experiences, children have free access and control the learning experience, children and teachers learn together, teachers encourage peer tutoring, and teachers use computers to teach powerful ideas. (Papert 1998, as quoted by Haugland, 2000)
Many believe extensive use will detract from developmentally appropriate activities
Healy (1998) suggests that too much computer time will detract from physical play and socialization with other adults and children that are necessary for emotional and cognitive development
Attewell, Suazo-Garcia, and Battle (2003) found that young children who used computers more than 8 hours per week had significantly higher BMI’s
Are children harmed by extensive computer use?
Geary (1998) shows increased time online led to feelings of loneliness and decreased interaction with family and friends
Families seem to agree with these researchers:
A study on the Internet and the family conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (2000) found that 59 percent of the families surveyed claimed the Internet can cause children to become isolated. Forty-one percent said it could lead to anti-social behavior.
Many of the problems researchers have discovered have echoed the research on extensive television viewing by young children
Hutinger, Rippey, and Johanson (2000) discover increased positive growth occurs in children when teachers integrate appropriate computer software and adaptation into early childhood curriculum and set up accessible computer centers in classrooms
This study further indicates improved social skills (sharing, turn-taking, attention, self-confidence) that seems to deflate arguments against early use
The key seems to be matching computer time, software choices, and teacher/parent instruction
Geary C. (1998). Promoting social competence in wired classroom: Internet activities in Duhaney. (2008). Technology and Young Children Revisited. International Journal of Instructional Media Vol. 35(4).
Haugland, S. (1992). The effect of computer software on preschool children's developmental gains. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 3(1), 15-30.
Haugland, S. (1999). What role should technology play in young children's learning? Young Children, 54(6), 26-31.
Haugland, Susan W. (March, 2000). Computers and Young Children. Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education , Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/eecearchive/digests/2000/haugland00.pdf
Healy, J. M. (1998). Failure to connect: How computers affect our children's minds--for better and worse . New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hutinger, P., Rippey, R., & Johanson, J. (2000). Benefits of a comprehensive technology system in an early childhood setting: Results of a three-year study. Final Report. Macomb: Western Illinois University, Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood