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Kids, tv and computersKids and tv - butterflies

Children today are spending fast amounts of time interacting with various types of media including television, computers and other electronic devices.

Television, the internet, computers, video games are prevailing into our lives far more than ever before. Media is everywhere. The internet has become an essential tool in our every day lives and will be an even bigger part of our children's lives in the future. However, the amount of time spent with computers and watching television and also the type of content children are viewing needs to be monitored.

Father and son on computer - kids, computers, tvWithin some families there is a temptation to rely on media screens to entertain young children. Televisions and computers are switched on around the world in lounge rooms, bedrooms, cars and shopping centres. There is no shortage of access to media and to the advertising agencies that target young children to sell their products.
Some parents wrongly believe that educational television is important for a young child’s development. However, television and video viewing for children less than two years is discouraged. Children over the age of three should engage with electronic media for no more than one or two hours per day. All content should be monitored to ensure it is high-quality and suitable for the child's age.

Unstructured or free play is far more valuable for children’s developing brains than electronic media.

Kids and tv exposure

The American Academy of Pediatrics state there is no evidence that early exposure to TV can enhance children’s language development. In fact, evidence suggests the opposite. Adults speak far less words per hour when a TV is playing and kids vocalise approximately half as much compared to when the TV is turned off.

There is also evidence to show that excessive exposure to media may result in sleep disturbances, attention problems and can lead to obesity.

Kids and tv can be a dangerous combination. It is important to limit the amount of television and computer exposure children receive and thus extend the opportunity for quality play and language experiences to occur while promoting a healthy lifestyle for your children.

Kids and computers

Most of us in the western world have been exposed to significant changes in the past twenty years due to the introduction of computers. Initially computers were seen in workplaces, and now approximately 80% of homes have computers with 77% having internet access and 45% of internet users accessing the internet through their mobile phones. Estimates are that 20% of us will own electronic tablets in the next three years.

Computer technology is embedded in our everyday lives and young children have extensive exposure to computers, yet some of us are hesitant to utilise this technology revolution to teach our children a vast range of skills.

Offering quality learning opportunities in the pre-school children allows them to be better prepared for technology based learning in primary and secondary school environments.

Young children are capable of learning many basic computer skills such as:

• Using the mouse and/or touch pad
• Retrieving, saving and printing files/documents
• Using drop down menus and the tool bar
• Loading CDs or DVDs
• Using drawing tools

However quality programs offer learning opportunities in all curriculum areas and in particular pre reading and pre maths skills.

Selecting computer software

The key factor in selecting quality computer learning programs is choosing software that is both educational and entertaining.

When choosing software consider these things:

• The program needs to be easy to install
• It should attract and maintain children’s attention, so look for colourful, clear and well-designed animations
• Games should be intuitive and easy to use. For example games should not need instructions, children should be able to work out how to play by playing
• Games need various levels of difficulty to achieve, children can then be challenged and motivated to progress through the various levels
• Interactive games where children are required to solve problems rather than just repeat a similar task repetitively allows enhanced learning to occur
• The game should have an inbuilt feedback mechanism, so children receive instant information about their responses
• The game should allow children to quit the game at any stage and save their work, so when they revisit the program they can continue from where they left off

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