Pondered and fretted about when should your preschooler or KG child should first use the computer, what websites are appropriate, what computer games are okay. We have some pointers here to help you in using the computers and the internet effectively for your child at this stage.
But first it is important you review some basic guidelines about computers and the net for your children, if you have not already.
Typically age 3 or 4 years are good ages to begin having some exposure to computers. By this age, the children are curious and have the attention span and the fine motor skills to point and click.
Where are they developmentally?
- At this age children typically sing short rhymes and songs.
- They have the fine motor skills to point and click.
- Typically, kids are curious about the computer. But if they are not interested, do not force them. They are just fine doing other play activities. They will have plenty of time to pick up computer skills and you will be surprised how much they learn by just watching you plug away at your laptop.
- Kids love to do colouring, sorting and matching, pretend play games on the computer.
- Children get attracted to websites with songs, rhymes and lots of colour and animation.
- Little ones are delicate. They can strain their eyes and back if they sit in front of the computer too long and also there are inconclusive studies about the harmful effect of CRT (computer monitor) rays on little children. So budget their computer time accordingly. Perhaps, 20 - 30 minutes for 1-3 times a week. Short installments of 20 minutes might work. Keep computer time for the latter part of the day when they are tired and cranky. Keep the fresh part of the day for other activities. Remember that every minute they are staring at the screen they could be playing, jumping or imagining.
- Once they start learning the alphabet and counting, many websites and games add a lot of fun to learning and retaining concepts. But remember that little children learn best by doing and touching. So use the computer along with other activities.
- Some good websites for kids this age are PBS Kids, Lego, even National Geographic Kids, Crayola, Starfall, cbeebies
- Some good educational and fun computer games are Peter Rabbit, Tonka etc. Games on handheld devices like LeapFrog can also be fun and educational. They are portable as well and can be carried in the car etc.