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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Computers can be good for kids

Why a black flower, Fiona? It's a drawing, Gug. It can be any colour I want.

I've read articles claiming that young children should not be allowed to use computers. One story said "technology is damaging young children whose brains are not yet fully formed."

Not true, at least not in my experience. My granddaughter, Fiona, will not be five for months but already she knows how to turn on the computer, find her icon and open the paint program. The other day my wife asked, "What is Fiona doing? She is awfully quiet."

I found her sitting at the computer making art. It was clear that the computer in no way is damaging her ability to concentrate. She watches what happens when clicking on this icon or that icon and she learns. She knows more about the paint program than I do.

She loves to experiment with colour and form. The computer is perfect for doing this. If one doesn't like the result created by one colour, erase it and try another. Do you like to experiment with geometric forms? It's easy with a computer but almost impossible for a four-year-old using paint, brush and paper.

I've noticed her work with traditional paints often resembles the stuff she creates on the computer.
Many times there is no big divide between her work on the computer and her work done on paper.

Fiona's mother used a computer at a very young age. Not as young as Fiona, but under ten. I had one of the first Macs and I bought a typing program for the little computer. Her mother would sit in front of the little black and white screen blasting words tumbling down the monitor. To type faster, she learned where to place her hands to best use all her fingers. She was typing more than 60 words per minute while still in grade three or four.

Using computers to do dumb stuff is not a temptation unique to children. Maybe learning to ignore such temptations at an early age is an advantage of early computer use.

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