How Early Should We Teach Computer Skills?

Today’s world is full of technology. Many stores absolutely cannot function if the power is off. Customers at Wal-Mart cannot even open the door without electricity. The future is likely full of more computers and technology to come.

At school, I have a computer center. I rarely have to instruct students on how to operate the computer. They usually figure out the games well before I do. Children are learning about technology at very early ages.

The Wall Street Journal predicts that almost all preschools are equipped with computers for student use. Ten years ago the number was only about one quarter of the early education programs.

ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) encourages children as young as four to begin learning how to maneuver a mouse and use a keyboard. The association has even created a list of computer standards that are specific to age groups.

However not everyone agrees with ISTE. NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) states that children should wait until they are older to learn about computers. They believe that basic activities such as art, blocks, books, pretend play, and sand are some of the best early learning that a child can have.

In her book, Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds- for Better and Worse, Jane Healy agrees with NAEYC. She feels that early use of computers can take away from learning valuable developmental skills. She also thinks that time on the computer can cause children to be poorly motivated and possibly lead to learning disorders.

While I feel that it is important for us to educate our children about technology, I also believe that there is a limit. Computers should be used as any other teaching tool. The time should be limited and only used in conjunction with outdoor play, reading, hands-on learning, and activities to spark the imagination.

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