Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman has caused controversy by saying that under-three's should have almost no exposure to television. While it would be difficult to argue the opposite, many may be surprised that Dr. Sigman recommends virtual banishment for the very young. Furthermore, he recommends limiting up-to-seven year olds to a maximum of an hour and a half of TV or computer exposure per day, and a maximum of two hours up to the age of 18.
Dr. Sigman's recommendations are based on a number of research observations. One concern is that sitting in front of screens leads to a sedentary lifestyle and is largely responsible for the explosion in diabetes and heart disease in the population. Another concern is that the acts of watching television and playing computer games have an affect on brain development. While brain scans of computer gamers showed different brain patterns, his research does not conclusively prove that gaming alters the brain, or whether people with gaming patterns are predisposed to playing games. His research does suggest that gamers are more prone to addiction and develop a dependency on screen technology.
We probably aren't that surprised to hear all of this; we all remember our own grandparents talking about the perils of television and the harm it would do in modern society, but back then it was pure conjecture and fear of the unknown. That their fears are being realised at a time when screens are appearing in every room of the house and even in our pockets gives us more to think about. We really have entered the information age, and we don't know where this is going!
Children today are better at using a computer than tying their shoelaces - according to a recent poll nearly all of the children questioned could play a computer game but only a third could tie their shoe laces! Of the 1057 five to seven-year-olds questions, 97% of them could operate a computer which is staggering.
But is this surprising or shocking? Not surprising as it is a technological world in which we live. Computers are everywhere and are a vital part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Also, not all computer games are dangerous and harmful! Many are educational, entertaining and charming for children to enjoy. And, just because a child knows how to use a computer, it does not mean that same child doesn't attend football classes, climb trees and get enough fresh air and exercise.
Nearly half the children questioned have access to the internet at home, according to Kelkoo who carried out the study. Of the parents questioned, 26% suggested they were worried about the negative impact of technology on their children but and their ability to form relationships. But 87% said that being familiar with technology was vital to their child’s development.
Clearly, monitoring your child's use of the internet and computer based games is vital, but we have to understand that computers are also a vital part of our world and you don't want your child being left behind.
I suppose the question remains: how useful is using a computer (to research, to communicate and to have some fun too) compared with the life long use of tying a shoelace in an age of buckles and velcro.
What do you think? Please post your thoughts.
It has been found that children today are more likely to be able to use a mouse to play a game on a computer, than tie their shoe laces or ride a bike.
While it seems a shame that so many can't or won't ride a bike, is it really their fault? After all, it the parents who put them in front of the computer and are pleased when they learn to use it. It's the parents who use their iPhone in front of the children or encourage them to play a game to 'keep them quiet' and it's the parents again who are not helping them tie shoe laces by providing them with velcro fastening shoes! But, as long as parents try to show and teach a balanced way of life (a bit of TV and a bit of swimming; a game on the computer then a nice blowy walk) then it's great that our children are being exposed to such brilliant and creative technology that computers provide.
The research published information that suggested 70% of children aged 2-5 can play computer games but that only 20% of them could swim on their own. Well, to be honest, the stats may sound threatening, but swimming unaided is actually a great deal more tricky to master at 5 than using a computer which is, after all, very simple to use, and the type of games the children play are specifically designed for children... It's not rocket science to suggest this might be the case!
S0me people suggest that in this digital age, children's skills are being measured by their ability on a computer. It says that parents are too busy or too lazy to help their children learn practical and physical skills. This is rather harsh. The fact remains that we do live in a digital world. It's not negotiable. We have to embrace the digital age or we simply won't be able to function! What we need to do is teach them all the traditional values and skills in addition to all the new-fangled ones. Then we will develop balanced and well rounded young people who don't sit in front of the TV all day, but who can ride bikes, swim but also use a computer.
Child experts are increasingly concerned that technology is replacing physical activities in the lives of young children - children spend more time tapping away on computer keyboards, playing with pretend mobile phones and watching television than they do playing outdoors or doing craft and other traditional learning activities. Parents are becoming more lazy, preferring to sit children in front of a TV or a computer rather than interacting with them and undertaking physical games and activities.
Interacting with others is a vital component for children to develop properly. Traditional activities such as craft, drawing and doing puzzles, with an adult nearby, encourages fine motor skills and physical development, and language skills are learned by conversing with grown-ups. This is all bypassed by children sat passively in front of a TV or left to their own devices being entertained by computer games or pretend technology devices.
Even though parents today have less time to spend with their children than for previous generations, it seems that we are all too happy to spend that little time we do have separated from them while the children are expected to entertain themselves.
Spend a moment to reflect on your own lifestyle, and ask yourself whether you are dedicating enough time to your children?
Children love to mimic what they see mummy and daddy doing, and when it comes to gadgets, they'll absorb the most current devices as if they've been around forever. No doubt you've collected your fair share of old telephones, mobile handsets, computer keyboards, remote controls for broken equipment, maybe even obsolete laptops?! All of these make for great 'accessories' for children to play with and will be highly favoured over play items because these are 'real' and ones that you used to use!
Before handing them over to the children, remove any old batteries just so that they can't leak, but then they're good to be used a play things.
It doesn't matter if an old computer keyboard isn't connected to anything, or that an old mobile phone doesn't have batteries in it and makes no noise. The fact that these are real devices makes them highly attractive to your young children, and being able to play with these items will encourage imaginative play between your little ones.
They can use a computer to do 'work' just like their mummy and daddy do; they can use redundant phone sets to call their friends and family; remote controls will just become gadgets that do something you hadn't even imagined yourself!
Nurturing familiarity with these objects at a young age will make them comfortable with real gadgets when they grow older - they won't be afraid to use phone handsets or computers because they won't be alien to them. Make sure that your children treat these redundant items as they would a working one - make sure they are gentle with them, never throw them, and put them in sensible places rather than leaving them lying in the middle of the floor. Having them treat these items with respect now will also instil that they need to treat real working gadgets with similar care later on.
The use of the internet and computers in schools is becoming increasingly important for learning, research and having fun, but how can we ensure appropriate, and safe use of such a phenomenal resource? ICT is covered in the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so it is recognised that little ones of reception or pre-school age should be introduced to the computer.
The first thing is to do is chat with your child about the internet and what it can be used for. Show them your emails, show them how to type keys and letters on screen.
Try a bit of 'art' with a drawing package, make it fun and simple.
Talk about the internet and what can be found there. Look up a favourite character together, or a local landmark you have been to or a map of your home area. Keep it simple and fun!
As they become more confident and begin to work independently, just be there to guide and help them practice their skills, learn about the keyboard and navigate the child-friendly sites that exist.
Place the computer somewhere central so you can keep an eye on how things are looking. Don't put computers in the bedroom if you can help it. Make it a family event when you do some online games or learning together as a family. Talk about what you are doing on line and make it easy for the children to flag up a problem if they encounter something.
The internet is a fabulous resource, but be aware of the potential dangers of allowing little children too much access.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has replaced the term 'IT' both in education and business and now forms an important part of preschool eduction. The world that our baby's are growing up in is undoubtedly different from the world we experienced as children. We had no email, no world wide web, no mobile telephones and computers were a rarity. It's not unusual now to find computers ten times more powerful than the ones we first knew inside our children's toys! A good understanding of ICT is essential in order for our children to progress in the 21st century.
The term ICT covers much more than IT; as well as computers it covers an understanding of ordered information, communication such as broadcast, telecoms and the internet, and input and output devices such as digital cameras, robots and music and video players.
Children are introduced to ICT in their preschool settings. They might have 'magic boards', play phones, the internet and have access to computers with integrated learning systems on them. They will be exposed to CD's and DVD's, 'QWERTY' keyboards and drawing tablets.
Outside of their preschool settings you should encourage this aspect of their learning too. If you're a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to computers then you'll have to overcome some of your fears and prejudices - ICT is an essential skill and over the next few years, your children will be introducing you to amazing things that they have learned to do with computers and other technology.
Not every aspect of ICT requires computers. Look at reinforcing ICT topics by introducing your children to analogue information - teach them about printed materials like newspapers, introduce them to maps and teach them about signs, timetables and other forms of information. Teach them about addresses and telephone numbers. The better an understanding they have of information around them, the easier they will find it to grasp more complex issues with regard to ICT later on in life.