Preschoolers with iPads and laptops – what is the right age to start computer education?
LaVonne: We bought an iPad for our four year old daughter. We travel 8 months out of the year for work. I also homeschool her. We knew that the iPad would come in handy for not only the mini-van but airplane as well. She has many of her movies on it, and we have even downloaded some PBS cartoons for her. It is also proving to be handy for homeschool. I have found many reasonably priced and free apps that are perfect for preschool learning. I even wrote a post about her favorite ten apps: Long Wait For Isabella.
Mary: I think the earlier the better. My two year old has been using my iPod for the last few months and I can’t keep her away from the computer. She watches PBSKids and NickJr. I also let her “play” on KneeBouncers. I wish I started my son sooner, besides being left handed his motor skills are not the best and they start them in preschool using computers. I think he would have been less frusrtaed but he learned it and now that he is in first grade he is able to complete some tasks at home for extra help.
Tonya: My 5 yr old loves to play games on the computer from sites like Nick and Disney. My almost 2 yesr old has learned to pick off the keys on my laptop which he done about 20 minutes ago, so I don’t think I will let him use the computer just yet!
Darcy: Ahh screen time. A hot topic! Some say kids under 2 years shouldn’t be on computers, phones or even watch television. That’s almost impossible in this society.. I think moderation is key. My daughter (17 months) watches some TV, plays some Kinect video games, and knows her way around smart phones and tablets. There are some fun engaging apps she plays with! She also spends plenty of time with real books, toys and outside so I think she’s okay.
Gena: My three year old is an iPad/iPhone whiz. I had to earn to block the app store completely because, while I have a password that he doesn’t know, I was tired of him begging to buy kid games that were in Korean. I don’t know how he finds this stuff. He also watches kid shows and videos on YouTube but so far, he asks if he can watch the videos and doesn’t stray too far. I’m going to have to learn how to make it where he can only watch kid videos!
Emily: I have an iPhone with a few apps that The Boy can play. I find some of the apps to be educational, and teaching him things that I wouldn’t necessarily think to teach an almost three-year old. The apps come in handy when we’re at a restaurant waiting for our meals, or on a longer car ride. At home, he has The LeapFrog LeapPad Tablet. I cannot say enough wonderful things about it! It is a great tool, and we limit the amount of time he can use it each day.
Ghada: My son started using my iPhone just before he was 3. It has been a life saver on long train rides, car rides and most helpful at the grocery store where he used to be prone to meltdowns around that age. It started out as just really fun games and as he gets older it has evolved into counting and spelling games – that are still fun! Lately he really likes to chill out with the iPad and this tends to be more games where he bonds with Dad – some are skill based and I think its great for hand-eye coordination. Like all things, its about moderation. I think as long as the games are age appropriate I don’t have a problem with young kids using tablets. After all, we are raising a generation completely different to our own. A generation who can research just about anything on google.
Lena: I tried to keep my daughter away from all things computer for as long as I could. I didn’t want her to get addicted to useless games and didn’t quite understand how much educational material was out there. She was 3.5 when she started online pre-school. Now she is 3.5 and comfortably operate my iPhone, MacBook, and PC. She looks forward to it and it gives me some free time.
Mary Beth Elderton says
I think it is a question of growing capable kids in their own environments with the flexibility to function in the wider world. I remember teaching my toddler son to work the VCR–then each new technology as it came along. My grand-daughters have been on the computer since they were old enough to crawl into someone’s lap and click a key or touch a screen. This is the world in which they will function and it does them a disservice to neglect teaching them how to use the technology. For parents concerned about the amount of time a child spends on the computer, I suggest structuring their days so that computer or game time is built in in the allotment they wish–same with outside time, bath time, etc. I frequently hear people in my age group–the grandparents–lamenting that “when we were kids, we…(fill in the blank.)” I remind them that, when we were kids, there were 3 broadcast TV channels, no remote controls, and the one, usually, phone in the house was connected by wires to the walls—and WE KNEW HOW TO USE THAT!
Having said all that, if the question is whether to buy your toddler his own iPad…I think that’s a budget issue that I will consider when I can afford one for myself :/
Thanks, Mary. You made a good point about time management. I appreciate that. Yes, I agree with you completely. I think we should introduce the proper use of technology to children as well.
Heather Kelly says
Our issue is that our son is 4 1/2, and our daughter is 2 1/2. They have the Leappad and Leapfrog Explorer that they both share. They have played a game or two on my Kindle Fire and my husband’s iPad a few times. But they don’t get to play games on my laptop or on our main computer. We don’t feel that they should be doing that. We live in Tennessee, and the schools here can’t even afford to own computers except in the schools office.
It’s bad enough that the schools here are over crowded with children who can’t master basic skills such as writing their own names, knowing their phone numbers, knowing their parent’s real names, in case they get lost. But the kids know how to use iPads, iPhones, etc. What is wrong with our society? What happens to these kids when they need to get an actual real job and work face to face with real people? What happens when there are jobs in the advertising world, doctors, lawyers, etc. We need these people in our lives, and if our kids are too hooked to electronics, who is going to fulfill these jobs? So glad that I won’t be around the day that a robot or computer diagnoses my illness or does actual operations! That would be nuts, but in a few hundred years, there might not be doctors, nurses, lawyers, police officers, etc. around, because the 18 year olds will all be more into technology then into performing actual jobs and helping others.
Scary, scary future for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and so on.
It really is amazing to think what the future is going to be like. Technology just continues to grow. That is a shame about the state of education not just in your state but our own country. We are homeschooling, and my 4 year old already knows our address, our phone number and how to dial 911. But we worked with her daily for about 4 weeks to learn that all. It makes a difference when there is one on one time with the children. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I sure appreciate it!
Liz S. says
I have been born and raised in middle Tennessee. I remember going to the computer lab at school once a week was a pretty big deal for us. Then when some teachers won special awards, they would get a set of 4 student computers in their rooms. Such a treat. Now my former elementary school is full of laptops and smart boards. Teachers now rely on the technology in their rooms instead of chalk boards. The technology is great, but I think we rely on it too much. I think technology should be used as supplementation, only. My son is 2.5 and he has no idea how to operate my computer, iPod, or cell phone. I just taught him recently which button to push on the Wii remote to start up another PBS style show. I am fine with him watching tv for a little while a day, but I don’t want him into iPads, for a while. I am proud to say we had a battery free Christmas. None of his toys required batteries, just imagination.
Liz, when the technology goes out, we are at such a loss. It is funny, we wonder how we lived without cell phones, laptops and GPS devices. But we all did, and life was fine. I think that is great – a battery free Christmas. I like that idea. Besides the iPad, I think we had one too. We recently got a Wii Fit for kids game for our 4 year old – she is now learning how to use that remote. Amazing the things a 4 year can now do!
Being able to learn on a computer has opened up new ways for students to develop academically, especially those who struggle with a learning disorder. Countless websites offer reading and math interventions already designed to help students with specific disabilities.
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