Chrissy Harris

Young kids and computers - recognised expert says 'no'

A WORLD-RECOGNISED academic in child brain development says introducing children to computers at a young age may not only be unnecessary but also harmful.

The University of the Sunshine Coast's Michael Nagel believes computer technology skills weren't necessary for children until they had reached "the upper levels of primary or older".

Pre-schools, day care centres and kindergartens across the Sunshine Coast, however, have been adding iPads and computers to their list of offerings for years.

Professor Nagel also says a strong body of evidence backs concerns that violent computer games may be linked to violent events, such as the horrific mass killings in America.

"Several academics both here and in the (United) States have looked at the impact of violent video games and music on the behaviour of people," Prof Nagel said.

"They have found some really frightening evidence.

"Games like Grand Theft Auto are incredibly violent.

"They do desensitise young people. We are beginning to see the connection between violent video games and aggression. The games are incredibly realistic, incredibly violent and allow you to do heinous things."

Prof Nagel said that while these games had an R-rating, research in America showed "92% of the people playing the game are aged 12-16".

His own research is examining the latest generation of "screenagers" and the effect of spending hours in front of technology.

"An interesting study has been done which shows the more time spent in a screen environment, the less one is able to read facial mannerisms," he said.

"This means people who spend hours in front of screen are hindered in their capacity to deal in the real world.

"There are a lot of researchers and psychologists who say it is not good practice to introduce computers at a young age.

"Research in ocular therapy shows the intensified light in the concentration of a screen is detrimental to the eyeballs of children

"There is also no substantive evidence to prove the sooner children get involved with technology, the better off they will be.

"Most evidence suggested children shouldn't engage in technology 'til the later part of the primary school or beyond."

What do you think about exposing kids to computers from a very young age?

This poll ended on 30 June 2013.

Current Results

It gives them a headstart


It's okay if managed properly


It's not really desirable


They don't need that rubbish


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

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