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All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #019 - Computers and Toddlers: The pros and cons
November 05, 2003
Shaping the life of your precious onesAll about Parenting Toddlers
5th November 2003
Welcome to another issue of All about Parenting Toddlers .
In This Issue:
1. Computers and Toddlers: The Pros and Cons
Many parents are looking to computers to give their 2-year-olds an edge. Here are the pros and cons of this popular trend.
Back in the days before personal computers found their way into the average American household, parents used to beam with pride when their 2-year-old built a tower out of Duplos. In our current era, however, a growing number expect their toddler to be as comfortable with the computer mouse as she is with Mickey Mouse.
This trend is driven not only by eager parents who want their children on the cutting edge of technology but also by computer, software, and toy manufacturers churning out products for younger children. Advocates claim that introducing very young children to computers gives them an intellectual head start. They believe computer programs designed for toddlers can strengthen problem-solving abilities, increase hand-eye coordination, and stimulate budding minds.
Other experts are more skeptical, urging parents to proceed with caution. "There's a lot of hype, but does a 2-year-old need to be on the computer?" asks Colleen Cordes, who co-coordinates the Task Force on Computers in Childhood for the Alliance for Childhood, a College Park, Maryland-based advocacy group.
Many educators consider 2 to be the ideal age to introduce computers, primarily because most toddlers by this time have the attention span and the hand-eye coordination required to move the mouse and follow the arrow on-screen. Most 2-year-olds are enchanted with the brightly colored images and enjoy making them change by clicking the mouse. At this age, children can usually grasp the concepts presented on beginner computer programs. Studies have shown that such programs can help toddlers learn shapes, colors, letters, and numbers, says Ellen Wolock, managing editor of Children's Software Review, a publication that covers children's interactive media. However, Wolock warns parents against replacing traditional learning materials with computers. "They should be used to supplement, not replace, traditional learning toys like blocks, sandboxes, and crayons."
Computers can also teach the relationship between cause and effect, notes Vicki Folds, Ed.D., vice president of Tutor Time, a Boca Raton, Florida-based company that owns and franchises child-care centers. "If the students push something on the keyboard, something happens on-screen," Dr. Folds says. Tutor Time's schools have been using computers in their curriculum for children ages 2 and up for the past decade.
Pamela Uncles introduced her daughter, Tara, to the computer shortly after her second birthday, with a program called Dr. Seuss Preschool. "She was transfixed," recalls Uncles, an educator in Reston, Virginia. "It helps her with her vocabulary."
Jill Burg, of Hartsdale, New York, echoes those sentiments. After she started her 2-year-old daughter, Rachel, on the computer, she saw a marked improvement in the girl's vocabulary and hand-eye coordination. Moreover, when Rachel wanted to learn about caterpillars, her mom found a Website that would let the two of them watch one instantly transform into a butterfly.
Not everyone, however, is sold on the virtues of early computer use. Critics point out that the skills computers teach can be acquired just as easily through old-fashioned, low-tech activities -- as indeed they were before the proliferation of PCs. In a recent report, the Alliance for Childhood detailed the potential hazards of computer use among young children. The report concluded that an over reliance on computers can give rise to the sorts of problems long associated with television use: stifled natural creativity, hampered social skills, and health effects such as eyestrain and obesity.
"Young children need a hands-on relationship with nature and the physical world around them, not interaction with machines," Cordes says.
Jane Healy, Ph.D., an educational psychologist in Vail, Colorado, and an outspoken skeptic of widespread computer use by youngsters, goes even further. "These children are not formulating language or expressing their needs," Dr. Healy says. "They're pushing a button to get their needs met. It's causing language use to diminish."
Dr. Healy, the author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds and What We Can Do About It (Touchstone Books, 1999), believes that, as with TV, allowing children too much exposure to computers at an early age can be detrimental to the developing brain. "The first three years of life are when children learn the foundation for creativity and develop critical motor skills," she says. "It's a time when kids should be encouraged to experiment and interact with people and their surroundings -- not to sit in front of a screen."
Most experts take the middle road, pointing out that the keys to making the most of computers are moderation and realistic expectations. No parent should park a child in front of this electronic baby-sitter. "In the end, software is just like any other interactive toy," says Susan Fryer Patrick, who designs educational programs for the Learning Company, in Novato, California. "It's one more way for kids to explore the world."
The above article is written by Deena Yellin
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Lying is a behavior that both parents and caregivers find particularly troublesome. Most children will exaggerate, stretch the truth or downright fib at one point or another. It is helpful to understand that young children often lie for very different reasons than adults do. This understanding will help you prevent and cope with lying and tale telling.
Reasons for Lying
* To confirm to expected behavior, avoid punishment or receive reward. A young child may realize that a concrete action such as taking a cookie is wrong and yet see no problem with denying the action.
* To avoid embarrassment and preserve self-esteem.
* They donít yet understand the difference between fact and fiction. This is very common with younger children. Their fanciful tales may be a reflection of their wishes or simply a bountiful imagination.
* Avoid giving the child the opportunity or reason to lie. This may happen when you confront a child for an action you already know they did. If you catch a child with standing besides a broken vase, it is best not to say, "Did you smash my favorite vase?" Try, " I can see you broke my vase, can you tell me how it happened?"
* Be a good role model and practice what you preach. A young child is not going to understand the fine line between a "white lie" and a fib. Attempt to be honest in all that you say and do.
* Try not to accelerate the lying with such statements as, "If I find out you lied about this, I am going to put you in time out." Instead encourage discussion by saying, "I donít think that is what happened, I need you tell me what occurred so we can solve the problem."
* Be sure to explain to the child in simple terms the importance of honesty. Talk about how it builds trust and social relationships.
* Acknowledge the childís feelings or the cause of the lie. "I can see you may be embarassed, but I need to know what happened so we deal with it together."
One of our readers is putting together a book of amusing and amazing labor and delivery tales, and need your real-life stories and bloopers! If you have a funny or off-the-wall childbirth anecdote to share, please send a short version of your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
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See you in the next issue. :-)
All the best,
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