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Q: My 7-year-old twin granddaughters have spent less time with computers than most kids their age. Recently, their school has started to teach keyboarding. Those who have spent a lot of time on computers are learning quickly, while my granddaughters are feeling a bit behind. I think that the girls will eventually catch up (and have reaped many benefits from less computer time in early childhood), but their mother is worried—both that they will stay behind and that it’s too early to for them to learn keyboarding. What can I tell her?
—Early-Childhood Ally in Winnetka, IL
A: Dear Ally,
First, there’s no need for your daughter to worry that her twins will be left behind. Although their peers are ahead of them right now, their developing brains should pick up this new skill fairly easily.
In terms of when to introduce computers, here’s a good rule of thumb: Introduce any media tool when children actually need that tool to complete the important tasks of daily life, including schoolwork. If the school is using computers in a thoughtful, education-focused way, then it isn’t too early to teach skills that will help your granddaughters use them effectively.
Recommend to your daughter that she talk to the teachers or principal and ask what role computers play in students’ learning. For example, what are the expectations about how kids use computers? What other tools are they learning to use for tasks that computers aren’t best for? And how are skills like online safety and cybercitizenship being taught?
Talking about this with the school should ease her mind—or, if she learns that the school isn’t using computers as thoughtfully as she’d like, it will provide an opportunity for her to offer suggestions.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
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