Child Education and Technology

Techno-Toddler – I bring up the available programs by going to the television, taking the pliers at the top of the TV, gripping the pins and twisting (plastic buttons have been broken years before my birth). Phone calls can be made on our big black rotary phone. In fifth grade, I played Pong and thought that I really liked something. We got the Atari 400, and I experienced my first education program: Lemonade Stand, now a very early Roller Coaster Tycoon version. Currently, a four-year-old may be able to program the game while watching the latest episodes of Dora the Explorer and surf the Internet to accompany the game’s website.

Stimulation and Learning Toys – Computer games and toys that simulate computers can be very helpful for learning. Repetitive games that teach letters, numbers and reading can be great, and the graphics and music accompanying basic facts can help kids learn.

Be careful, however, not to let your child become over-stimulated by video-type toys. Reading books with each other is another great way to develop reading readiness, and playing with puzzles or basic toys is also good. You don’t want your child to depend on flashing lights and buzzers in order to learn new skills.

Health Risks – Video and computer games have been linked to vision impairment in children, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, addiction to these games is a very real consequence. It is extremely important to set time limits on gaming. While your child may develop some killer small motor skills, he could be ruining the nerves in his hands at the same time. Keep an eye on him (and his fingers).

Predators on the Net – The Internet is a remarkable learning tool. Work together with your child to research anything of interest. Most children’s programming also has websites with games and activities. There are also interactive sites where children build houses, care for pets, or submit writing.

Close parental supervision is of utmost importance when children are surfing the web. Chat rooms on kids’ sites are sometime prowled by child predators. If your child has an email address, monitor it carefully for spam and sexual content. Kids are naturally curious, but can get into a lot of grown-up trouble quickly if left to their own devices online.

Cell Phones – My daughter came home from fourth grade yesterday, begging for a cell phone. Since her teenage brothers both have phones, I assumed she just wanted to act older than her age. Not the case at all – over half her class has cell phones. The kids are talking, and texting at an incredible rate.