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When to introduce kids to computers 1

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

There is no reason (cognitive or otherwise) why a child of 9 or 10

shouldn't use Squeak on a computer.


There are many reasons why children of various ages shouldn't do "X"

on a computer, but both the ages of the kids and the X's have to be

taken into account.


There is quite a lot of parallelism between the desirable

percentages of time spent learning from books at various ages with

similar activities on computer. Basically, the younger the child, the

more they should be messing about with the physical world. (Of

course, most parents don't do a very good job of dealing with their

children's physical world experiences either. For example, the kinds

of toys that children play with in the physical world are quite

important, but very little effort on the part of most parents goes

into learning about desirable toys.)


But, even with young children, having them get familar with

books and reading (especially via "lapware") is good for all. The

same applies for thoughtful uses of computing.


Finally, though having anyone look at CRTs up close for any

period of time is not terribly good for them (research supporting

this was done by us at Xerox PARC in the mid70s), there is absolutely

no harm incurred by having children look at the typical flat-screen

XVGA screens found on current day laptops.


I just read the article in question that you mentioned below.


"Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood," available as a free download from the Alliance for Childhood, www.allianceforchildhood.net


It is

really quite bogus and completely mixes up stuff that is more or less

true with lots of stuff that is simply alarmist and most quite wrong.

It's like blaming the printing press because of comic books or that

Hitler wrote "Mein Kampfe". I could not find a shred of understanding

about what children really do need to experience at an early age

(it's neither hands off intellectual stuff, nor is it mini-university



In any case, it quite misses all of the important points about

children and just about anything -- moreover, it could just as well

be about books -- highly isolating (that's part of the point),

"intellectual", etc. -- and musical instruments -- repitative stress

injuries (you bet) -- rather than computing.


The biggest problem is that those holding these sentiments and those

of the faction they oppose -- both are very large groups -- are both

quite wrong about early childhood -- *and* the possible uses of



Above from an Alan Kay email

In a few places there are people who understand that "computer" is

not a subject to be taught, but a medium to be used for reflection

and expression--just like older media.


A related question well worth exploring is what technologies children

should be encouraged to use at what age. Some educators think that

children may be harmed by too-early emphasis on abstraction and

representation. Some preschools and kindergartens have established

mandatory computer time for their students. Certainly children are

capable of using the machines, but the question remains whether this

is the best use of their time.

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