Virtually all children have access to computers either at school or at home, the current technological dynamism though has made it difficult to agree on the right age to expose the younger generation to this technology. Differences in exposure, economics and social structures has often dictated when a child can start using a cell phone, a laptop or a tablet computer with little regard to the age factor. The changing technological knowledge and capability is increasingly gaining cognizance as an integral learning tool for promoting the social, linguistic, and cognitive development of young children. Fact is – there is no backtracking to past practices and the issues that needs to be dealt with currently should not be whether computers are ideal for learning purposes but rather how this new technology can be incorporated into the education system from a scientifically justifiable age.
The key concern in computer use by children at the preschool ages is mainly the effect they have on their development physically and mentally. Research suggests that uncontrolled computer use by children can be harmful at varied levels and scales. The early frequent use of computers by toddlers has been found to tamper with children’s’ attention spans, damages their developing brains which become hardwired in response to the experiences of virtual reality that they experience in front of the computers as a result subverts the development of children’s cognitive skills, most protagonists to child adoption of computers inn education cite cases of obesity in children who spend excessive time with computers, possibilities of repetitive-strain injuries when children use computers at workstations not designed for them, decline in social involvement and development, and increased aggression due to emulation of violent computer games among others. These in my view are very valid reasons that need to be looked into before the introduction and adoption of computer use by children at the Early Childhood Development stage.
Other studies also give very strong support for the use of computers by children citing very positive effects. Growing up in a technology – computer era triggers a different thinking from other generations. Several researchers recognized that computers are increasingly becoming relevant in early childhood education where preschool educators employ computers/technology as a major teaching assistant, this is something that cannot be stalled because dynamism of modernization and technology is inevitable. A number of defining characteristics of the digital natives evidences the importance of early adoption of computer use i.e. more connection to other generations, faster processing of information and as such faster feedback, greater potential for multitasking, among an array of supporting arguments.
Young children are surrounded with technology in their communities and at home – the greater risk now is to ensure that these kids are exposed to the technological gadgets at a medically approved age with use under the guidance and supervision of someone with excellent knowledge of computers and danger they pose to children which they are obviously oblivious of.