Kids "cyber literacy"
Computer literacy is increasingly seen as an essential skill for children. But what is the best age to introduce them to computers and does it give them a head-start? (...) Worldwide research on very young children and their use of IT is limited, but one recent report from Sheffield University in the UK called Digital Beginnings makes for interesting reading.
For instance by the age of four, 45% of children have used a mouse to point and click, 27% have used a computer on their own at home, rising to 53% for six-year-olds, and 30% have looked at websites for children at home.
The Child Computer Interaction Group (ChiCI) studies the dynamic relationship between children and computers and feel that children should not start using computers too early in their development.
ChiCI's Janet Read says: "My own opinion is that 18 months isn't a good age. It's a little bit ridiculous to think of an 18-month-old child sat in front of a traditional computer. That's not to say there might not be technologies that are adapted to them in the future, but the traditional keyboard, box, monitor and mouse doesn't seem to fit a child very well."
Janet Read says: "I wouldn't say that children who use computers would definitely get a head start. Some of these children would have been pushed in front of a computer like they would be pushed in front of a TV and so they're getting either the wrong sort of stimulation or no stimulation of any value, because it's quite easy to be entertained on a computer and not necessarily gain any value."