Developmental changes during childhood are most dramatic. It is during this time that we start to learn language, reasoning, self-awareness and the motor skills necessary to function as an adult. The learning experience we acquire during childhood contributes much the kind of person we are to become.
Several studies are being conducted on the role that technology may have on childhood development. Most of these studies focus on its possible benefits on learning, particularly that of the computers'.
By far, research has shown that computers, if used properly, can contribute to the enhancement of social, language and cognitive skills. One strategy used toward this end is by encouraging children to interact and work together. This can be done by placing computers close to each other, or putting two seats in front of a computer. You may also place one computer at a spot that would easily catch the children's attention. This will cause them to flock towards it. This strategy works because of the fact that computers are intrinsically motivating, with their colorful pictures and the interactivity they allow. The cooperation and interaction this strategy fosters can contribute to the children's self-concept and learning attitude. The children also learn leadership roles and have shown to initiate interaction more often. This even improved their spoken verbal communication.
A unique feature of the computer is that it allows actions and representation that may never be made possible in the physical world. This allows for manipulation of variables such as chemical components that may not be accessible in real life and that may be hazardous to the fragile little children. The computer allows for a bolder yet safer approach to learning.
Studies have also shown that traditional learning activities coupled with a computer is more beneficial than using either one alone. Children from ages three to four who were taught in a classroom setting coupled with a computer proved to gain more in conceptual skills, verbal and nonverbal skills, abstraction, and problem solving. Third grade children who combined traditional methods with computer programs showed more sophistication in the way they think and reason.
Computers can also provide a new twist to learning something that children already know. The new motivation that the computer offers can lead to a renewed self-direction. Children who already know how to read may be encouraged to improve their vocabulary through fun and interesting word games made available by computers.
Some child advocates are claiming that the encouragement of computer use among children is paramount to the encouragement of a sedentary lifestyle. Computer use advocates, on the other hand, are responding by emphasizing that this can be easily addressed by simply moderating its use, just as we should never allow children to watch too much TV.
While technology can never replace essential activities that require actual human interaction such as story telling, reading together, classroom discussion, or playing in an actual setting with other children; there are boundaries we can cross that only computers can make possible. We need only to use it properly.