How Young Is Too Young for the Internet?


How Young Is Too Young for the Internet?

Computers and the Internet are a part of our daily lives as parents, whether we like it or not. They make life both easier (grocery delivery, anyone?) and harder (we're expected to work 24/7 because computers make us more "efficient"). Their ubiquity raises important parenting questions, as our kids are fascinated not only by the devices they see us using but by what we're doing with them. Many of us find ourselves wondering about the age appropriateness of video games, smart phone games, and computers in general far earlier than we expected. Just how young is too young for the Internet?

Circle of Moms member Megan R.'s 3-year-old knows how to turn on the family's XBox and play adventure games. She thinks this independence is wonderful, but is curious to hear what others moms think. Not surprisingly, some moms condemn it. Deepti G., for one, thinks it's too much, that toddlers should spend their time developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination by playing in the real world. She's worried that kids might get addicted and even harm their eyesight. But what do the experts say about this?

Is Three the Magic Number?

The American Association of Ophthalmologists cautions that using a computer for more than nine hours a day may be linked to eye diseases, or more commonly, eye strain. Fortunately, most of our toddlers are not on the computer for this long. Addressing a more typical situation, neurologist David Perlmutter says that kids should not spend more than a half-hour at a time looking at the screen, and that age three is a good time to begin teaching our children basic computer skills.
 
But Circle of Moms member Julie B. thinks that computer use at this age is potentially harmful in other ways, arguing that computers can impede our kids' ability to "just be kids." Learning is wonderful, but, she asks, what about play?

Though my son, at 27 months, watches three shows on television (Wonder Pets, Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba), he doesn't watch every day, or even regularly. And he has one app on my iPhone about baby animals. I figure that he will be introduced to computers soon enough — and once he is, there will be no turning back. So, for now, I will continue to encourage him to be outside as much as possible, and to read books — the good, old-fashioned way.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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