"Everyone knows that babies crawl before they walk, and that tricycles come before two-wheelers. But at what age should children get their first cellphone, laptop or virtual persona?"
Of course, when we were kids we didn't have cellphones or laptops (I sound like my mother!) so it's difficult to gauge when the proper age for these gadgets actually is. The article So Young, and So Gadgeted by Warren Buckleitner examines this question.
Warren Buckleitner states that according to child development experts, a middle ground is the best approach to take (neither too early, or too late) and he lists four age groups and what they are capable of -- and should/shouldn't be doing. He also invokes Piaget's four stages of cognitive development to back up his suggestions.
AGES 0-2: "...To work at this age, technology products must act like a busy-box, with lights or sounds that respond to a child's actions...But even these activities should take a back seat to real experiences."
AGES 3-5: Children at this level can take real pictures with digital cameras, can play online video games on PBS Kids or Nickelodeon's Noggin or with video game consoles.
AGES 6-11: By this age, children can search the Web and have an entire new world available to them. Buckleitner warns, however, "This is a time when parents need to keep an eye on the screen and steer children toward good sites..."
AGES 12 AND UP : Communication with peers is paramount as this age, as Buckleitner writes, "In fact, cellphones are now more or less mandatory for children at this age. Besides providing a social advantage, phones can reduce parental stress in a crowded mall, get children in touch for homework help, serve as a call to dinner — and be withheld as punishment that really works."
What do you think? Are children introduced to technology and gadgets too soon? Not soon enough? What is your take?
To read the complete article, visit the New York Time's Web site.