There has been a long debate on whether computers stimulate a child’s mind in a positive way or if computer use deters a child from socializing and human interaction. We have read through several studies, including Children and Computer Technology by The Future of Children and Fool’s Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood by Alliance for Childhood and have found the following consistent points for both sides:
Computers stimulate growth in children:
- Playing computer games enhances children’s ability to read and visualize images.
- Home computer use is linked to better academic performance.
- Internet searching introduces new concepts and topics for growth development
Computer use negatively affects children’s socialization and growth:
- Increased use of Internet might cause depression and obesity.
- Playing violent computer games can distort simulation from reality, causing desensitization.
- Excessive use of computer use may discourage children from partaking in outside activities.
Overall, the studies concede that more research must be performed for more conclusive results. The take-home message, albeit obvious, is that computer use for children should be in moderation. The computer is a great way for children to learn by images, text, and exploration. If performed excessively, as anything else, negative effects may occur.
At such an early age, there should be parental controls put forth on children’s computer use, such as:
- Time limits – hourly limits depend on the child’s age
- Website filters – no adult content
- Positive video games – limited to no violence
- Intergrate homework with computer use for growth and development
- “Practice what you preach.” As a parent, do not excessively use your computer.