The Pros and Cons of Toddlers and Computers

Many parents are looking to computers to give their 2-year-olds an edge. Here are the pros and cons of this popular trend.

Do Toddlers Need Computers?

Back in the days before personal computers found their way into the average American household, parents used to beam with pride when their 2-year-old built a tower out of Duplos. In our current era, however, a growing number expect their toddler to be as comfortable with the computer mouse as she is with Mickey Mouse.

This trend is driven not only by eager parents who want their children on the cutting edge of technology but also by computer, software, and toy manufacturers churning out products for younger children. Advocates claim that introducing very young children to computers gives them an intellectual head start. They believe computer programs designed for toddlers can strengthen problem-solving abilities, increase hand-eye coordination, and stimulate budding minds.

Other experts are more skeptical, urging parents to proceed with caution. "There's a lot of hype, but does a 2-year-old need to be on the computer?" asks Colleen Cordes, who co-coordinates the Task Force on Computers in Childhood for the Alliance for Childhood, a College Park, Maryland-based advocacy group.

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