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  • Escrito por Cesáreo hace 14 años y 9 meses (21 Jul 2005 10:10)
Every time, children are using computers more and more. In the US, "more than 80% of children below 12th grade use computers and between 40 and 60% use Internet" as a study of the US Department of Education in June 2005.
The use of computers brings some problems to their education. "Members of Congress and watchdog groups are again sounding the alarm over the sexual and violent nature of some video games that are falling into the hands of children" as Brad Wright told in CNN.com news, last year.
There must be a balance between the use of computers and the need of children to grow up healthy, emotionally and intellectually. This can only be achieved if you know your children well and take care of them and this means to look at them , to listen their needs and to take decissions if you see your children get lost or get confused.

But, let see what is a computer and what are children.

A computer is an electronic device that can get information from the user, or even from other computers. It can amass a lot of information in little time and can storage it. Wikipedia says that "the complex interactions of these components endow computers with the ability to process information". Most of us know what a computer is. From this point of view today there are many kinds of computers: mobile phones, MP3 players, PDAs, gaming stations, etc. Children can get whatever information from them, but especially from: gaming stations, mobile phones and typical Desktop/LapTop PCs. For our interest here, a computer can manage a lot of information systematically and can show/receive it interactively when user makes requests. This means that a computer is only a tool, powerful but only a tool. And its power comes from managing a lot of information, saving it, and showing it. They can not learn from it so a computer is not a problem by itself.

But computers are used by humans and here we are talking about a special type of users: children. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, children are people under 8 years old. Also what is important for us is that children are growing through their contact with the world. Children have a high-perception capacity because they can take info from different sources, at the same time and very quickly. And more important is that they can reconfigure themselves when they are learning. We humans have this capacity mostly when we are children. In that ages our phisiological senses are set up to get as much information as we could and aftermath, getting experience and growing up. Children are special users because of their big capacity to learn.

So, if a computer device provides a lot of information and children are systems whose primary goal is to learn we have a special and strong relationship. You can leave alone a child with a computer and probably they will understand very well. A computer has a lot of information, it sends info to children, they learn how to get more information, so asks for more and we have a infinite loop. One has what another needs. Computer has information and Children need this info to grow up. A loop that only can breaks when info is not relevant for children or it is boring. Where I am talking about info, you can think in chat with dangerous people, play games four hours/day, stay alone studying every day, see explicit sex, play violence games and so on. So, problem is what are children learning when use a computer. And that problem is the same for other type of situations, not only children and computers but children and drugs, children and school, children and violence, children and media, etc. It would be nice to see children learning geography and looking at photos of that faraway country but it would not be to see our children playing games eight hours a day.

So, you can not avoid a meeting between children and computers. We should understand that we need to get better knowledge, but not only in intellectual sense but in emotional sense, and it is in this way when it could be dangerous a excessive use of computers for persons under eight years. Problem is when children left playing outdoor, or playing with other children or when all their world is make up of information coming from a display. But there is no difference if you change here computers for TV. So, problems about children and computers are mostly the same that typical education ones. So if you have in your home any computer that can be used by your children, look what they do, listen what they need and take care of them.

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Blog Mi estancia en Berkeley (Summer Sessions 2005)

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